I'm taking a one day retreat today. Six whole hours of solitude, non-doing, and quiet. Some time to think, reflect, and prepare.
I put this day on my calendar a few weeks ago when my week looked relatively clear. New obligations and responsibilities I care about have snuck in like weeds in my calendar but I've carefully, lovingly, plucked them out one by one.
I've also had to loosen my grip on some things, like some self-imposed deadlines and some piles of laundry. I've also had hustle a bit more with preparations for later this week so I'm ready for what else is coming.
So, is this selfish, to take a whole day for myself? My inner critic (yes, coaches have them too!) certainly has that opinion, and has tried to sabotage me a number of times.
But I believe that as do-gooders, self-care, rest and renewal have to become non-negotiable.
Too often I hear my clients' yearning to take a break, to rejuvenate from their important work.
They know it's "good" for them, but they tell themselves it's selfish, not "right", or that they can't because others or their work will suffer without their constant tending. They get caught up in the doom and gloom messages of their inner critic.
But we have to put on our oxygen masks first before assisting others. Regrounding ourselves means we can stretch further. Resting allows us to move faster and farther.
If you're longing for a retreat and some renewal yourself, try this:
1) Do it now. Sure, we'd all love to go to Hawaii (or your version of paradise) to chill out for two weeks. But instead of waiting for "one day", do it now. It can be small: one client of mine would swivel her chair around and take a 1 minute "window break" a few times a day.
2) Intentionally plan some breaks in your day. Set a chime to sound on the hour on your computer. When you hear the tone, bring your awareness back to yourself. Breathe, get up, stretch, walk around, get outside if you can.
3) Take your breaks randomly: take 2 intentional deep inhales and exhales before picking up the telephone when it rings.
4) Give yourself a bedtime: turn off screens at least an hour before bed, and create a calming bedtime ritual for yourself. Our brains register electronic screens like a miniature sun, so create a "sunset" for these devices so you can rest more deeply at night.
5) Create your own retreat: Sites like this one can help you find a retreat center near you. There is a retreat center to meet many needs, and can include overnight accomodation, retreat guidance, spiritual direction and/or meals. Or DIY: Find a spot in nature, or a quiet contemplative indoor space such as a museum, place of worship or architectual gem in your area. Bring a journal if you like, give yourself a focus for your time (or not), and give yourself the gift of unwinding.
6) Notice what shifts in you, and in your impact with others and the world when you do allow yourself to rest.
Wish me luck on my own retreat.
I don't know exactly what's on the other side of this day of reflection. But I can't wait to find out.
In the Comments below, I'd love to hear from you! Tell me:
– How do you rest and rejuvenate?
– How does rest help you do more good in the world?
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