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Design Your Retreat

Creating your own self retreat mostly requires that you think through why you want to retreat and how you want to structure it, and what you need to support yourself while you’re doing your retreat. You’ll want to consider the following:

  • Intention & focus
  • Length of retreat
  • What Practices will you do?
  • Any other activities?
  • Props and supports needed

Once that’s all clear you can draft a retreat schedule, choose the date, make preparations and begin.

Consider these Questions to Help you Design Your Retreat

  1. Why do you want to retreat? What is your intention for this retreat time? Idenfity and clarify the purpose or focus of this retreat.
  2. How long do you want your retreat to be? How many hours in the day? How many days do you want to retreat for?
  3. What practices will you do on your retreat?  Is this retreat all about meditation and quiet time or will you integrate a particular activity into this retreat? E.g. creativity, time in nature, cleaning the house, etc.
  4. What props do you need for your retreat? What do you want your retreat space to be like?  What will help you quiet your mind and focus?
  5. What do you need to do to set up your retreat? And how will you protect your retreat for the time you are unavailable to the outside world?

Breaking it down a little more, here ere are some possibilities for how you might define your retreat:

Intention & focus:  You want to rest, be alone, unplug/disconnect from devices, focus on a problem or task, stop worrying, be in touch with your true self, spend time on spiritual practice, spend time writing or doing artwork, clean, connect with nature, get clear about an issue, do nothing.

Length: 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours, 2 days, 3 days, 1 week

Practices: sitting meditation, prayer, yoga, qigong, walking

Other Activities: drawing, writing, gardening, carpentry, cleaning

Retreat Props: meditation cushion, chair, yoga mat, time piece, incense, blanket, outdoor gear, books, poetry, recordings, candles, journal

Pre-Retreat Setup: vacation message, talk with family members/roommates, prepare retreat schedule, clean/neaten space for practice, food prepared, everything unplugged and offline

A recent self-retreat I did this spring mapped out like this:

Intention: to quiet my mind and unplug from the world and be more in touch with my “true” self

Length: 3 days, with formal practice time being 8am-6pm

Practices: meditation, walking, yoga

Activities: gardening, writing

Props: cushion, candles, journal, books, yoga mat, cushion

Pre Retreat Setup: vacation message, told friends, prepared a retreat schedule, cleaned/neatened space for practice, prepared some food (but not all),  turned off wifi/cell coverage, stowed away my laptop and cell phone,  but used ipad as my timer and ebook reader (wifi off)