At-Home Retreat & Renewal
Recently, I went on a holiday-at-home retreat. Six months ago, I had a plan to be in Canada and Europe on holiday and on retreat, right now. Well, as we all know, life looks very different. Instead of a holiday, I’m on leave from work for a couple weeks due to surgery. My last weekend before returning to work, I felt the need to go inward – since I really couldn’t go outwards. Couldn’t drive because of surgery on my hand, and COVID cases are increasing in my part of the world.
Time to hunker down.
I had considered a formal online yoga retreat, and then I became ill. Probably just an exhausted system. Instead I abandoned formal plans and my retreat weekend became a minute by hour unfolding.
Some of my go-tos were unavailable. I couldn’t put weight on my hand and had to keep it held aloft above my heart, which made yoga asana practice unwieldy. Though, I tried – the three legged dog, the one armed warrior – nope.
How the weekend panned out
The weekend became a time of asking humbly what was needed to nourish body-mind, spirit, and hand. It started with a marathon watch of a comedy series, Catastrophe. To have time to write plus work fulltime, I don’t usually spend time with television. But this night, I needed to some happy distraction and I remembered my doctor-daughter had thoughtfully downloaded Netflix episodes for me as a “laughter is the best medicine” remedy. I laughed out loud until I cried.
On Day two, I had a messenger text from a friend I hadn’t seen or spoken to in twenty-five years. That random contact led me to a book by our mutual esteemed teacher, Baba Hari Dass – The Path Unfolds. It’s an autobiography of his life, and I was riveted. I was challenged to consider my own life as a broad journey, as he was reflecting on his winding path from Bengal, to the Himalayas, across central India, to North America.
“One thing leads to another and the path unfolds by every event in life. Life is for learning.” Baba Hari Dass
Like most things the silent monk, Babaji, wrote on his chalkboard, this line struck me as deceptively simple and also very deep. As I read, I could feel something release in my chest. Oh, yes, this is all just the path unfolding- the past brought me to the present. No clinging to old traumas or history, no longing for what might have been. This present life is my dharma, my spiritual direction, perfect for my learning and evolution.
My dharma-buddy on my home retreat is my trusty mutt, Max. He organised regular walks in nature, slowing down to take in every shrub at a mindful pace. He also invited me for afternoon naps on the lounge in the wintery sunshine. His doggy sadhana practice consists of multiple naps interspersed with downward dog on awakening. I’m not sure I will reach his state of contentment and peace in this lifetime, but I’m practicing.
I insisted on striving to type on the latest novel-in-progress. One handed typing without punctuation- progress may be an exaggeration. But it was my retreat, and dreams of new plot twists were part of the sweetness.
I was feeling so blessed by my home retreat experience, I wanted to share. I took time to contact a few people by card and telephone who could possibly use a lift. Surprise – instead I was uplifted.
From my overflowing heart, I donated to some charities. My few dollars come back multi-fold in peace and fulfilment.
I know that children, work, and circumstances can make a retreat-at-home a challenge. Still, I encourage you to give it a whirl. Designate a weekend. If you have spouse or kids or pets, include what nurtures them.
The sum of my simple weekend (which to be honest didn’t look all that different from my other isolation weekends) was a boost in juice, a zap of life-force, a renewed calm, a heartful compassion for how tough we are all doing it, and, also, a renewed gentleness for my personal path. Whatever you call your weekend retreat, do take “time in” – time to go inward, time to reflect, time to purposefully go slower, and to consider the lessons of your unfolding path.
The Path Unfolds Baba Hari Dass https://srirampublishing.org/?p=737 (or on Amazon)
The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the journey to your true calling Steven Cope https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-great-work-of-your-life-stephen-cope/book/9780553386073.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwt4X8BRCPARIsABmcnOrlQuY7XnAaK-oKipF6Hj6shSPMngh2CZ8Nt_uOybJ8mbEZE5sUazAaArgzEALw_wcB
Living the Yoga Sutras Kelly Dinardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden https://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Living-Sutras-Dinardo-Kelly-Pearce-Hayden-Amy/9781611805499?utm_source=googleps&utm_medium=ps&utm_campaign=AU&gclid=Cj0KCQjwt4X8BRCPARIsABmcnOqkYCVbgwmbnXNMO-pKkxR9i5hUuSIqKAkCn8OyVFdhDOfdSgbM3UUaAuPHEALw_wcB
Photo Credits Unsplash Johnathan Macedo