It’s not necessary to go to a fancy meditation retreat in the mountains if you want a few days of silence. Maybe you don’t have the time or money to travel. You can do just as well on your own at home.
Take a weekend and try these ideas to conduct a personal silent retreat at home:
- Clear your schedule. You can’t have people bothering you if you’re going to perform a silent retreat. Let everyone know you won’t be available for a day or two or 10. Think about everyone that might need to communicate with you and inform them. Reschedule any appointments for another time.
- Take care of any business before your silent retreat. Whether you need to go shopping, make phone calls, or get an oil change, do it before your retreat. Either get it done, or plan to do it another time. Think about your menu and get the necessary groceries.
- Unplug. Can a silent retreat include TV and the internet? It’s up to you but consider eliminating all electronic devices and distractions. The point is to spend some quality time with yourself. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by going without your normal distractions for a few days.
- Be patient. If you’re not used to being alone and quiet, it can be quite maddening. Just allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and relax. The end will come soon enough. Boredom is part of the game.
- Decide what you’re going to do. What activities do you consider to be acceptable? Are you going to get caught up on work? Read? Meditate? Draw? Write? Plant a garden? Enjoy nature? Walk? Address your future? Heal from your past? Consider how you want to spend your time.
- Create a schedule. Avoid the temptation to just play it by ear. Have a set of activities planned and allow yourself to choose from them. When one becomes too boring, stick with it for a while before moving to another activity.
- Make mindfulness a priority. Avoid allowing yourself to just sit around and ruminate. Have defined tasks and keep your attention on those tasks. If you really want a break, this is the best break you can give yourself. You mind is always running at full speed but being mindful can relax it.
- Use a journal. Make the most of your retreat by capturing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Don’t let those great insights go to waste. Ensure that you record them for future reference.
- Consider getting out of the house. You don’t have to conduct your silent retreat at home. Staying home is acceptable, but there are other alternatives. Consider going camping or renting a cabin. Even a hotel room can be an option. What type of setting would inspire you? Maybe you can camp in the backyard.
Silent retreats are nothing new. It’s a great way to train yourself to be mindful, present, and to give your body a well-deserved rest. If you'd like to try a more formal silent retreat, St. Clare Retreats, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, offers silent retreats for all faiths and denominations. These silent retreats are held at St. Columba Camp and Retreat Center and are for women only.
In Western civilization, a silent retreat is necessary from time to time. We could all use a break. Give yourself this gift. It will only take a few days and you’ll emerge as good as new!