To create the conditions for a peaceful retreat we need ensure that the conditions are right externally as well as internally. It actually requires a change of pace. Going to a calm quiet location is great, however we need to really allow ourselves to adapt our pace to suit the environment. This could involve something a simple as slowing down the pace of our walk, say on a beautiful beach. Perhaps walking barefoot in the sand or water – salt water will in itself have therapeutic properties, as well as giving our body the message that we are in a different environment – encourage relaxation and perhaps even conjure childhood memories.
In addition to this, we can also encourage deeper stillness – when was the last time you let yourself just sit and watch the sea? Or the passing seagulls? Being in nature is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living, so make the most of it. Its surprising how many people go out for a lovely walk and take their phones with them, spending large portions of time in conversation rather than taking in the surroundings around them. There are many triggers to keep our minds busy – and mobile phones are definitely one of them…
If its your intention to de-stress, and find more inner calm, try to stick to this goal, by setting up your day accordingly. Its so easy to re-create a busy schedule for ourselves when on holiday just like our busy home life. To set up a retreat you need a different intention. The word ‘retreat’ can mean to ‘withdraw’ – in other words to step back from business and familiar routine. It is about finding stillness – and experiences that are less to do with what we are doing and more to do with what we are not doing. This is so deeply needed, and yet to those who need it the most, who are accustomed to being entrenched in a busy workload it can be a surprisingly difficult feat to achieve. Mental chatter, habits of being always busy, addictions, poor diet, difficulty sleeping and other obstacles can get in the way of our genuine desire to give ourselves a break.
This is where practices such as mindfulness, yoga, tai chi and meditation come in as even more essential in showing us the way to find restore calm and balance amidst what is often an unsustainable and unhealthy routine of fast lane living, with increasing pressures and stress levels.