On retreat we are immersed in the quiet, the teachings and the meditative state.
But retreats can also be expensive and time consuming; most of us need a personal re-charge more often than we can go on retreat.
A DIY one hour retreat is a way to get all the benefits of being on retreat without the expense or aggravation.
All that’s needed is one hour of our time.
Even one hour of quiet and solitude can make us feel more present and better able to return to our life and handle our daily stresses once again.
The biggest challenge to the DIY one hour retreat is ourselves—our own ability to be convinced that one hour will be enough.
In her book Rewire Your Brain for Love: Creating Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness, Marsha Lucas reports on a study that found after only 11 hours of cumulative meditation practice there is a change in the brain, specifically in the thickness of the amygdala, which is responsible for empathy.
Scientists put people who have never meditated before in an MRI machine before and after 11 hours of meditation and found that in that short amount of time of meditating a difference to the brain was sustained.
This means it isn’t necessary to be a full-time yogi, monk or nun to change yourself, that a few hours will do, thus making this DIY one hour retreat a brain-changing exercise.
Here are some tips for how to create your own DIY one hour retreat.
1. Turn off the phone and computer.
It’s pretty hard to focus on your inner self when the outer world is contacting you. For one hour all our contacts will be just fine without us and we may even feel better than fine not contacting them.
2. Go somewhere quiet.
This could be your home if no one else is around, but getting away from the environment in which our daily stresses reside is a big asset to the DIY one hour retreat. Being outside in nature is the best choice as nature can enliven our quiet time. The sounds, sight and smells of nature turn a solitary experience into a communal one.
3. Move slowly.
I mean really slow.
Like crazy person in the street slow.
Because it’s incredible to watch what happens to our consciousness when we slow down. The mind opens up from the hop-scotching of monkey mind and becomes clearer and wider. All from simply moving slower. Moving slowly is really the key to turning an hour by ourselves from a boring or lonely time to solitary retreat time.
4. Have no goals.
The DIY one hour retreat is not a time to come up with ideas, or even to plan on walking from point a to point b. We even need to let go of any idea that feeling better might occur at the end of the DIY one hour retreat.
During our DIY one hour retreat we just walk when we feel like walking, sit when we feel like sitting, listen when we feel like and listening and so on, all very slowly and sans goals.
In the DIY one hour retreat if the mind starts to get busy—telling us about all the things we need to do and all the places we should be going instead of just walking around slowly and quietly—then we notice these thoughts and give them a warm hello. Then, shift attention to the breath and then see if we can move even slower.
If an hour is too much for this DIY retreat, then don’t worry about it. Fifty minutes is nice too, 23 minutes can work, also. Even nine minutes is fine a pinch. And who doesn’t have nine minutes to give to themselves.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Flickr / gihin