Retreat

Earlier this week, I visited a friend whose home is lovely.  There is stillness in this home – quiet, intentional rooms for writing, reading, and sleeping without tv.  There is movement outside – gardens growing, squirrels chasing after everything, hummingbirds stopping for something sweet, and wind blowing blades of grasses into patterns.  Meals are fun to prep and enjoy; music is plentiful.  Movies and conversation mix.  I told this friend that I felt like I went to a retreat in visiting her, and she replied “this is how we live.”

I want to learn how to live like that.

Merriam-Webster defines retreat (this is just one way) as a movement away from a place or situation especially because it’s dangerous, unpleasant, etc. A quick Google search reveals a retreat as an act of moving back or withdrawing.  When I think about retreats, I think of the typical spiritual, yoga, writer/artist retreats.  What I gather is a retreat is to change the space in which we occupy in order to change within ourselves.  While most retreats change the physical space, most of us are only afforded limited paid-time off (if we’re lucky) and we can’t always take a vacation.

I want to learn how to create a space that feels like a retreat inside my own home, which I can only imagine may prove difficult within a small one-bedroom apartment shared with another person.  I want to create an “everyday retreat” within my own walls for the average person (or at least just for me) — a place to retreat within myself, my mind, my world I have built for myself.  In trying to figure out how my friend attained such a space, I find myself drawn towards the ideas of creating :

  • intention – a focus (perhaps on something that is relaxing or relevant, like yoga, writing, art, reading, etc.)
  • physical space – if you live in a one-bedroom, I am beginning to think about rearranging the space.  Maybe it’s a particular chair or nook that I can use.
  • atmosphere – more important than the physical, creating an atmosphere that meets the intention.  Maybe this is through physical objects, or delighting other senses with smell or taste.  Maybe this is just turning off tv and allowing the space for other things to happen.

I will need to walk around with this idea for a while before I figure it out myself.  But for me, one thing I know I need more of is nature.  And that is an easy fix inside a home – especially when your friends provide you with extra plants to take home.

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How has changing your space changed your life?

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One thought on “Retreat

  1. Another thoughtful post that made me think about my own process. I think I have 2 kinds of retreats. The first is an internal or mind retreat where I intentionally set emotions/feelings/thinking aside to make space for less consuming emotions and thoughts. That is often my own personal quiet time when I run where, ironically, the activity of running and the accompanying metabolism change I find calming and spiritual. For physical spaces I find what you suggested helpful for me; I periodically “change” the room around. Sometimes it’s just the things on the wall, other times it’s larger objects in the space. I used to do it in my office at work and still in my music room at home. Sometimes, it’s also introducing something into it that I find comforting or useful that makes me feel good. Other times, it’s removing something. In each case, it’s the process of “change” that serves as my personal metaphor for allowing or transporting me to a different place. As the old saying goes, “if you can’t change you, you can’t change anything”, so my two kinds of retreat are my welcoming/inviting places to think and consider where I am, what’s next, and/or life (and everything that includes).

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