Going on retreat assumes leaving your life behind. You’ll experience an exotic location and meet new people. Maybe you’ll be eating a different cuisine and engaging in activities you thought you’d never have the courage to do. It’s definitely not home.
The things mentioned above are what make a retreat both exciting and daunting. In the end, you are still you and there needs to be a certain amount of grounding for you to be present and get the most out of your retreat.
When I was packing to go on retreat, a friend of mine once suggested that I take a framed photo of my husband to place by my night table. I did consider doing that and it was a good idea.
However, then I remembered what I used to teach my counselling clients about creating “your special place”.
In the counselling space, creating “your special place” was having a place to go to in your mind’s eye where you were safe and could escape to when things in life were chaotic.
For many years, “my special place” was being in Puerto Rico and looking at the ocean, watching and hearing the waves crash on the shore, feeling the sun tickling my bare skin and breathing in the gentle salty breeze. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was there. I immediately felt a sense of peace wash over me and knew that whatever was happening in my life would pass. I was once again grounded and able to handle the stress I was under. Not only was this “my special space”, it became “my sacred space”. It was at my fingertips any time I needed to go there.
Today, “my sacred space” is our land in Costa Rica. When I’m not there, all I need to do is close my eyes and I see the spectacular 180-degree view of the ocean in front of me. I tilt my head up to receive the sun on my face. I hear the cicadas singing and then I catch a tropical bird land on the highest branch of the tree next to me. I imagine the butterflies flirting in and out of the bushes dressing them in an array of color. I focus on my favorite palm tree, the one that is magical and has the capacity to transport you to other realms. A broad smile lights my face. I am there.
When I go on retreats, I always take my oracle cards with me. Once I unpack them, I choose a special spot in the room to place them. If I have a roommate, I point them out to her as I am happy to share them. Every morning I draw a card and read the message that’s waiting for me.
Before I get to the retreat center, I try to get to the store to buy a candle and some matches. There’s nothing better than to burn a candle to clear the energy in the room and make space for our energy and all the wonderful things that we anticipate by partaking in the retreat.
And then, of course, I carry “my special place” in my heart.
I invite you to create “your special place” if you don’t have one already. Just close your eyes and imagine. Use your six senses. You’ll know when you’re there. Remember it and take it where ever you go. It will keep you grounded and no matter what exciting or nerve wracking experiences are in front of you. You can do it!
I would love you to share your special place with us in the comments.