You may feel ready to increase your spiritual practice by dedicating an entire day to meditation, mindfulness and pilates. The problem is, organized retreats are costly, and many of us don’t have enough time to book a week away. But fear not. Though joining a spiritual community is a great motivator, you can still enjoy the benefit of extended practice by crafting your own solitary retreat.
Before I outline an example retreat schedule, here’s a word of warning: It’s essential that, when deciding to create your bespoke home retreat, you absolutely minimize distraction. That means making your retreat, and consequently your wellbeing, the number one priority. It’s worth considering booking a day off work, hiring a babysitter, or even booking a holiday home for the day if avoiding distractions at home seems impossible.
And yes — eliminating distraction also means turning off your mobile phone. Lock it away, keep it out of sight. Let people know you’ll be unavailable in advance.
Self-discipline is also crucial for a home retreat. You are your own guide, and as a result, to get the biggest benefit, you’ll need to exercise discipline to keep on track. Remember to balance discipline with self-compassion, though — you’ll end up feeling stressed out if you spend the day scalding yourself for not doing things “right.”
Essentially, there is no “right” way of doing a home retreat. Instead, find what works for you and don’t feel pressure to follow a schedule to the minute.
An Example Home Retreat Schedule
Warnings out of the way, let’s look at a sample schedule for a home retreat. To get the most from your experience, I’ve included a mixture of sitting meditation (decide in advance which practices you’ll follow, i.e. loving kindness, mindfulness, mantra-based), pilates, mindful eating, mindful listening and spiritual reading. All sandwiched by useful journaling to record your experience:
8am- Mindful shower.Try not to let the mind wander aimlessly. Focus on the breath and the sensation of water.
8:30am- Mindful breakfast. Choose a meal that will keep you full for a few hours. Practice mindful eating by focusing undivided attention on the smell, taste and texture of what you eat. Take each bite, slowly.
9:00am - 9:30am - Contemplation and looking ahead. Focus on your motivation for today. Journal any hopes, fears, desires. Affirm your dedication to your spiritual practice.
9:30am - 10am - Sitting meditation. Sit how you feel comfortable, either on the floor or on a chair.
10am - 10:15am - Stretching / pilates.
10:15am - 10:45am- Sitting meditation.
10:45am - 11am- Stretching / pilates.
11am - 12:30pm- Spiritual reading.This can be any spiritual text that inspires you.
12:30pm - 1:30pm- Lunch. Again, attempt to eat mindfully. I’d recommend preparing your lunch the evening before, so you don’t spend too much time preparing.
1:30pm - 3:30pm - These few hours are flexible. You can rest, go for a walk outside, try yoga, pilates or further spiritual reading. Remember, this isn’t a free pass to be distracted — no internet, mobiles or anything that takes you away from the present.
3:30pm - 4pm- Sitting meditation.
4pm - 5pm- Mindful listening. A fun exercise I recommend here is to listen to your favourite album or Spotify playlist. Close your eyes, focus on the breath and drink in the texture of individual sounds, which when combined, form a work of art that has the abilitity to moves you. Notice every element. See if you can hear things you’ve never noticed before. Then, notice your emotional response.
5pm - 5:30pm - Take a rest or focus on stretching or pilates. If you’re hungry, have a snack.
5:30pm - 6:15pm- Sitting meditation.
6:15pm - 7:15pm- Dinner. More mindful eating — yum!
7:15pm - 8:15pm - Spiritual reading.
8:15pm - 9pm- Sitting meditation.
9pm - 9:15pm- Pilates.
9:15pm - 10pm. Reflection. Write down everything you’ve experienced today. Look back on what you discovered and thank yourself for taking the time to get in touch with your spirit.
Ricky is the owner of Mind That Ego, a spirituality blog emphasising the importance of spirituality in overcoming feelings of anxiety, depression and unsatisfactoriness. You can read more at: www.mindthatego.com.