Phones ringing and pinging, e-mails to be sent, social media accounts to update, bumper-to-bumper traffic, televisions blaring—noise everywhere!
This is how most of us now live our lives.
With this constant noise, continual distractions, busy schedules, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, how can we even begin to be with ourselves? How can we connect with our soul or block out the background noise long enough to hear the wisdom that our soul is trying to pass on?
On a physical level, it’s easy to get caught up in the materialistic world, but occasionally it’s important to step back from the outside world to give yourself a chance to pause, reflect, and heal. You need to schedule some alone time, so you can commune with your soul and give the power of spirit the time and opportunity to restore you with energy and vitality.
I’m not talking about a typical vacation, but something on a more spiritual level, such as a retreat—something to restore your energy, release those tensions, and quiet your mind.
Vacations generally cater to our physical pleasure senses rather than feeding our inner self. We go on vacations for sightseeing, dancing, drinking, sunbathing, shopping, and packing as much as we can in such a short time. How many times have you gone on vacation and said: “I need another vacation from my vacation!”
Retreats are a time for you to step back from the pressures and distractions of everyday life, be quiet, unplug, relish in the solitude, journal your thoughts, and, most importantly, to be with yourself in communion.
By devoting time to strengthening the connection between your body, mind, and spirit, you can create a harmonious balance that permeates all areas of your life. This time offers you a chance to look inward to connect with your spiritual center for self-discovery and clarification.
When it’s time to go back to your routine, you’ll have a clearer perspective of how you live, as well as having a more positive focus on the direction for the future. This confident attitude will spread to other areas of your life, and hopefully you’ll continue this ritual of self-improvement and better self-care.
I was teaching once at the Omega Institute and, during a break, I was walking around the grounds for a little fresh air. It was a beautiful summer day and there were many people out, some sitting under the trees writing in their journals, some meditating, others lying on their backs and staring up at the sky.
Others were walking around with their heads bowed. I found out later these students were in silence. They were instructed not to talk to, engage with, or interact with anyone else for about three hours. If you think it’s easy, then try it and see for yourself! Most of us are constantly interacting with others all day, but when we’re not interacting with others, we’re inside our own heads, talking to ourselves and always thinking, thinking, thinking.
The purpose of not talking to anyone, which is a form of solitude, is to let your mind bring up thoughts, but not pay attention to them as you let them come and go. If you practice these quiet times, you’ll find that the hold that your mind has over you will diminish. The constant mind-chatter will ebb like an out-going tide. In other words, you begin to have control over your thoughts, instead of them controlling you. This is when you start to hear your own inner voice and value the stillness that results from solitude.
As the weekend drew to a close, I noticed how everyone on the campus appeared really peaceful and serene, with a twinkle in their eyes as though there was a light illuminating them. I believe this is when your soul is beaming and saying, “I’m happy!” By going on a retreat and spending time in quiet contemplation, you’re giving yourself a chance to be with your soul and with nature and to be in the now.
Retreats don’t necessarily need to be long; it’s more about the quality of time that you spend on yourself that counts. They also don’t have to be at luxurious spas or hidden away in the hills. When my friend David goes on retreat to be with himself and his soul in solitude, he goes to a local monastery run by Franciscan monks. Many of these monasteries allow people to come and spend time in quiet contemplation. The monks let him spend time alone in meditation, prayer, and silence. They’re not there to convert him, but to honor his request as a spiritual being.
I often say, “There can’t be a we until there is a me.” Give yourself and your soul the opportunity for a retreat. Don’t just say: “Oh, yes I really should do that sometime.” Do it now or do it soon—you deserve it. It will improve your life, your health, and your attitude toward yourself and others. It will definitely help you to approach your life from a more holistic perspective, inside and out. It truly is a vacation for your soul.
Adapted from Power of the Soul: Inside Wisdom for an Outside World by John Holland. © 2018 Used with permission.