Find some peace easily
In the summer of 2017, I did a week-long yoga retreat in the mountains of Serbia. It was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever been through. Not only because of the direct result of this week but because I learned a magic trick.
I learned that, whenever life gets off track, whenever you are stirring away from yourself, there is a quick, easy fix. That fix has the shape of a retreat. Not a week-long one, not in the mountains, not with a yoga instructor, not spending any money. But at home, for a day, without any tools required but yourself.
Since then, I have done one-day retreats at home at least once a year. Although hard to believe, they have a major positive impact on my life in the weeks that follow. More focus, less stress or anxiety, better moods, and an increased sense of happiness.
These are the activities you can include on a one-day retreat at home, to find some peace easily.
1. Turn Off Your Devices
In a highly connected world, we have fewer and fewer moments without devices. 84% of Americans claim they wouldn’t be able to go a day without their phones. But they could, they just don’t want to.
Be in the other 16%, and unplug completely for a day. Turn off your phone, laptop, television, music player, or any other digital device you own.
Research shows that most people spend 3h15 per day on their phones. These gadgets take up so much of your time, that if you go 24 hours without using them, you will realize that, suddenly, you have a lot more time in your day. Time that you can use for other things, like reconnecting with yourself.
This is rule #1 of a retreat day. The goal is to focus on yourself. Having devices around you steals your attention and ability to achieve inner peace.
2. Do Yoga
Stop thinking of yoga as something that only a few hippies do. Yoga is everywhere, and more and more people are adopting it. Statistics show that the number of US yogis rose by 50% in the last years, while the worldwide yogi population has reached 300 million people.
So many people spending time on this activity must mean something. Yoga has proven benefits that impact both your physical and mental health.
Including yoga sessions on a retreat day is essential. It is the one activity that establishes the connection between your body, mind, and soul. It helps you feel more grounded and at peace within yourself.
Meditation is one of those things that people only truly understand when they do it. We have all heard about its health benefits, both in physical and emotional realms, but fewer of us have experienced them.
That is because you don’t feel them after sitting down for 10 minutes on your first day. It’s not like going for a run and feeling your body tired right after it. With meditation, you need regular practice to feel its benefits.
Still, including meditation on a retreat day is foundational. It is while meditating that you will feel a deeper connection with yourself. And even if you never practiced it before, it is never too late to start.
4. Practice Silence
If you are doing this retreat on your own, you will probably not speak. But there is a difference between not speaking because of the circumstances and because you mean to do it. Be mindful. Don’t talk to yourself either. Stop the conversation inside your head.
Don’t listen to music or to the television. Give yourself permission to spend time in solitude and silence. Doing this allows you to find clarity and gives you room to focus on processing your emotions, instead of your words.
A retreat is an occasion to try and find mental clarity. Journaling allows you to put into paper an organized version of what is going on in your head.
Proven benefits of journaling include stress release, a chance to self-reflect, and boosting your memory. This is an activity that takes some time and, thus, may be overlooked in your daily life. But on a retreat day, you have plenty of time to do it. Let your mind run free, sending thoughts from the head, to hand, to paper.
The same way you are giving your mind a break, do the same with your body. Think about it: when was the last time your digestive system had a proper chance to be rebooted?
Religion has used water fastings for centuries as a way to prepare the body for an emotional connection with the divine. In the same way, you can make use of it to connect with your inner self and achieve some peace and clarity.
Besides, fasting has scientifically proven health benefits. You will experience some of them during your one-day retreat, but make sure to drink water throughout.
The way you include these activities in your day is entirely up to you. I recommend listening to yourself and going with the flow. After all, that is exactly the point of having a day like this: reconnecting with your inner self and listen to what your body and mind are trying to tell you.
In my case, I sleep until as late as I want and start my day with a 1h30 yoga session, followed by 30 mins of meditation. Then, I spend some time journaling. Sometimes, I take a nap. Other times, I go outside for a mindful walk. I do another meditation session, then spend some time in quiet. In the evening, I do another long yoga session, followed by a meditation moment. Then, it is time to sleep. The next day, I wake up happier and at peace.