7 Ways To Retreat When You Can’t Get To The Ashram

Birds and BarnDo you feel like you need to rest, recharge and nourish yourself in a focused intentional way?

  • Maybe you feel like you’re living in survival mode, rather than from joy.
  • Maybe you feel like you need time to process a big decision or life event.
  • Maybe you want to receive clear guidance about your next steps and what your prioirities should be.
  • Maybe your spirit is crying out for some stillness.

You’d love to be able to go to a mountaintop and just BE for an hour, a day or a week – but there’s no way that’s happening right now with all of the plates you have in the air.

Don’t despair!  You can create your own retreat anywhere (yes, even at your desk at work!)

We tend to go, go, go – and rest just enough so that we can keep going.  But it’s critical to our health, our sanity, and our happiness that we actually step away from the hustle and bustle to be with ourselves quietly in order to hear what our hearts, bodies and souls have to say.

I can hear you saying now, “Girlfriend, have you seen my calendar?  When am I supposed to find the time to retreat?”

And that’s what I’m about to show you.  You don’t need a week, or even a day (although if you can do that, I HIGHLY recommend it!)

7 Components to Consider As You Create Your Retreat:

Depending on your available time and inclination, choose one, or a few, or all of them. At the end I’ll give you some ideas about how you may want to structure your retreat for maximum impact.

1.  Rest Resting can take many forms.  It can be extra sleep, a nap or time spent sitting doing nothing and not worrying about your to-do  list. It can be taking a break to go for a walk and noticing the nature all around you. It can be stopping, closing your eyes and taking three deep breaths to center yourself and calm your mind.  It can be formal meditation practice. Ask your body what kind of rest it needs right now. Then listen for the answer, and do that.

2.  Quiet:  You can’t hear your soul whispers unless it’s quiet.  Unplug. No TV, no computer, no phone. Be in silence or with gentle instrumental music. What comes up for you? Notice our thoughts, your emotions and feelings in your body.

3.  Movement:  Your body was built to move.  Get your juices flowing with dance, yoga, walking, or gentle stretches. Again, ask your body what it would like right now, and do that.

4.  Inquiry:  Is there a decision you’re wrestling with? Do you need to ask, “What do I most need more/less of right now in my life?” Is there a situation that’s challenging you, like a tangled relationship, where you’re not sure how to move forward? You can journal, or ponder, or do some art – or all three.

5.  Pampering:  Indulge your body with a massage, a pedicure, a seaweed wrap, or a long soak in the tub with some candles and aromatic bath salts. Something that feels a bit decadent.

6.  Creativity: Get out your art materials (the ones you bought so you could make stuff are still in the cupboard) and play! Express yourself. Let it be messy. Let your inner child out. You don’t have to show it to anyone else. It doesn’t have to be “good” – just let yourself flow. Notice if anything surprises you about this process.

7.  Nourishing: Plan an intentional time of nourishing your body with only clean foods. This may take a little planning if you don’t usually eat very well, but it will be worth it!  You don’t have to do anything fancy – green smoothie for breakfast, gorgeous salad for lunch, something light and colorful and unprocessed for dinner.  Fruit and nuts for snacks. Make sure you get some protein and healthy fat at every meal.  Drink lots of water, with lemon if you like it! Stay away from sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

Whether you are planning a 5 minute “breathing and stretching” retreat, or a full day of retreat activities, it’s important to let your mind know “This is separate, sacred time,” by creating some structure around your retreat time.

3 Steps to Create A Retreat:


  1.  Set your intention:  Why are you doing your retreat?  Some examples: I intend to relax. I intend to inhabit my body and listen to what it has to say. I intend to follow the lead of my inner-child. I intend to work with this question.
  2. Create your schedule:  Decide which activities you will include in your retreat. If it’s more than one or two, you may want to write them down.
  3. Create an opening ritual or ceremony:  This can be as simple as taking a deep breath and stating your intention, or as elaborate as you’d like to make it, with candles and poetry and sacred items. The point is to let your mind know that this space and time is separate from your day-to-day reality.
  4. Create a closing ritual or ceremony:  Again, this can be a simple “thank you” to yourself or something more elaborate wherein you celebrate the insights, gratitudes, or relaxation you’ve gained. You are letting your mind know that your retreat has ended – although you will carry the benefits with you into your everyday life.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with retreats – tiny or large – or your plans for creating your own! Please leave a comment below. I always respond personally.


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