For most of us, it’s challenging to carve out time for a retreat. So, you want to make sure you make the most out of your precious retreat time. Through 35 years of taking and leading retreats, I’ve found you’re almost sure to have a successful retreat if you:
1. Choose the right setting and format
2. Prepare in advance
3. Start off Gently
4. Let go of concepts of do what works for you
5. Alternate between being still and moving
6. Build a bridge back to your life.
Letting go of Concepts and Doing What Works
When you’re on a solo retreat, it’s an awesome time to deepen your trust in your self. It’s powerful to practice following your heart moment-by-moment with no plan or agenda.
A vital step is to let go of all concepts about what you should do a retreat. You might have ideas from things you’ve heard or read. Maybe even from this blog. Best to let them all go. Even let go of thoughts about what worked for you on previous retreats.
Have the intention to simply be present and to listen to your heart moment by moment. You may be in for some big surprises. Perhaps you were expecting to spend hours meditating and instead you’re guided to go on a long hike. Perhaps, if you’re staying at a retreat center, you’re drawn to the library and magically pick up just the right book to inspire you.
A retreat is a wonderful opportunity to let go of habitual behaviors and thinking patterns. Being in a new setting helps. Then, as you relax and slow down, you can start watching your mind more closely. You’ll likely notice that most of the thoughts that go through your head are not worth paying attention to, much less acting on.
It’s very freeing to stop following your mind and begin to tune into the often more subtle impulses of your heart. Your retreat is a great chance to practice this. When you hang out in silence by yourself for a couple days or longer, you can break free of old habits and discover new, more joyful ways of being.
The more deeply you let go of everything you know, the more fully your retreat will be a whole new beginning in your life.
Andrew Oser has been offering guided retreats and spiritual journeys on Mount Shasta since 1982. Through hikes to little-known sacred sites, guided meditations, spiritual life coaching, and time drinking in the silence of the mountain, he helps clients to deeply renew themselves in body, mind, and spirit and receive clear vision for their lives.
Mount Shasta Retreats