“Where ever you go…there you are.” Enlightenment is not found in some exotic temple on the other side of the world. It’s found in the daily mundane practices of life that slip by often unnoticed. Often purposefully ignored. Often pushed away. Traveling is great because it does help to open up a range of perspectives, as well as get us outside of routines so we can SEE our life. However, the true magic happens when you wake up in the same bed that you wake up in every morning. It happens when you go to work, when you laugh with your loved ones, when you move through arguments – and when you experience the inevitable suffering of loss, sickness, and death that is simply a part of living for all sentient beings. It happens when you go grocery shopping, when you eat your lunch at your desk, and when you watch your kids play soccer. It happens on the inhale and it happens on the exhale. Sometimes, however, we need some distance to see what is right in front of us.
Though travel is a wonderful gift to be able to experience, you don’t have to break out your credit cards to go on a much needed personal retreat. It’s takes some commitment to practice a zendo/ashram/temple style retreat at home, but it’s doable and the benefits will be felt immediately. I recommend starting out with just one day the first time around, and then you can decided how a single day, weekend, or week long home retreat will fit into your life.
Follow these steps:
1. Pick a day when you can be alone. I know this can be a big challenge for some people, so you may really need to enlist some help in the endeavor.
2. Decide what your goal is, if any, and what forms you are interested in practicing, whether it is a certain kind of meditation, yoga, creative expression, or some blend there of.
3. Pick out any books, videos, podcasts, or supplies you will want to incorporate into you retreat day. (Meditation cushions, yoga mats, books, a journal, painting supplies, etc.)
4. Do as much as you can to create a peaceful environment before hand. Clean up a bit so you at least have room to move around or even one small area for minimal distractions.
5. Shop for and prepare clean, healthy food the day before.
6. Set up a fairly rigid schedule for the day like the one below. This will help you keep a flow, limit your decision making, and allow you to focus your attention fully on each part of the day. Note: Make sure you add in mundane activities such as household chores. This will help you bridge the connection between a calm, inward awareness during your retreat, and your regular daily life where you need it the most – the place where practice turns into to being. This is a practice that is typically incorporated into spiritual retreat centers.
5:30 Wake up, quick shower, get ready
6 – 6:30 Meditation **
6:30 – 7pm Yin Yoga***
7 – 7:30 Eat
7:30 – 8:30 Clean
8:30 – 9 Rest and journal
9-10 Listen to Dharma Talk*
10-12 Read and rest, eat
12 – 2 Clean house, work outside in the yard or garden, etc.
3 – 4 Vinyasa Yoga***
4 – 4:30 Journal
4:30 – 5 Rest
5 – 5:30 Eat
5:30 – 6:30 Listen to Dharma Talk*
6:30 7:00 Journal
7:00 – 7:30 Meditation**
7:30 – 8:30 Yoga Nidra***
8:30 – 9:00 Prepare for sleep
9:00 Get to bed early
*Example: Free dharma talk podcasts from the SF Zen Center
**Free meditation timers (Bottom of page)
***Example: Yoga Videos from Yoga Glo
Note: You may find yourself using technology as part of your retreat. Avoid the urge for outside communications via social media. Keep the inward focus except for the knowledge of experienced teachers via, books, blogs, videos and podcasts (preferably ones that are ad free). Since there is no one else around to keep your daily schedule flowing, I recommend using a to do list app like Wunderlist, which you can utilize to setup your schedule with time reminders.