In our turbocharged world quiet, unallocated time to simply be is a rarity. Most would dismiss the notion. Some would attack it outright. But personal retreats allow the soul to come alive in ways that don’t happen elsewhere. In the absence of performance we find who we really are. Or perhaps we are found by Who Really Is. Welcome to soul space.
As you retreat, you might find the following guide useful as a gentle prompt toward three vital components of the retreat experience. Generally, I recommend 3 equal portions of time for the 3 elements, but feel free to adapt and use them in whatever way benefits you most.
Phase 1: Refresh.
Start by sitting or walking quietly. Let your mind’s “hard drive” spin down and go idle. Go empty and just be. Receive the gift of a quiet mind, an open heart, and a grounded presence. Let your senses reconnect you with nature and with your own heart.
Do not pray...at least not in a mental, conscious way. Not yet. Just be present.
As tasks and distractions enter your mind, jot them down if helpful and set them aside.
If outside, listen to the sounds around you. Watch the breeze play with the trees. Feel the sunshine on your face. Inside, find an object to observe and meditate upon.
Breathe. Breathe in joy, peace, comfort...whatever your soul needs. Breathe out stress and worry and distraction. In and out.
Phase 2: Reflect.
Next, look back on recent weeks or months and look for the learning. Now that you’re awake and refreshed, present in your own skin, consider your recent past. As your mind scans conversations and experiences, good or bad, ask yourself, What am I supposed to learn from that?
Look for convergences—the same message/dynamic showing up in multiple ways. Remember, there is no failure...only feedback. Discard shame. Embrace learning.
What beliefs or mindsets are getting in your way? What new mindsets would serve you better going forward?
What truths, scriptures, or authors are you drawn to? Read and meditate.
Now pray for the people and situations you care about.
Phase 3: Refocus.
Finally, look ahead to the upcoming week or month and position yourself to thrive. By this point your soul is renewed and you have taken much in; it’s time to give out...or at least plan to give out. This third phase is about discerning how to reengage the world from a thriving posture to help others thrive.
Where do your priorities need to shift as you look forward? Who needs more of you, who needs less? What self-care practices need greater attention so that you can show up in the world in a healthier way? How does your leadership need adjustment or alignment for the next season?
Journal your answers to the questions above.
Now transfer these ideas to your calendar is ways that make this vision tangible and practical.
What important action have you known needs to happen but has been put off? If possible, do that thing right now, while you’re on retreat...or plan it immediately for your return.