The word “retreat” summons up pictures of taking at least a weekend, traipsing into a place that is isolated and spending the time in quiet reflection. You would return refreshed, renewed and focused.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have time to take a whole weekend to do that sort of thing. But that doesn’t meant that the end result of refreshment, renewal and focus can’t be mine.
Enter the mini-retreat.
What Is A Mini-Retreat?
I was first introduced to this concept by Leonie Dawson, who talked about a mini-retreat in one of her blog posts.
A mini-retreat is simply a short amount of time where you go somewhere to relax and do renewing activities. It can be as short as an hour, or as long as a whole day.
The difference between a mini-retreat and a break, though, is that a mini-retreat is planned, and has specific things to be done.
Planning A Mini-Retreat
All it takes to plan a mini-retreat is to capture those items of a longer retreat: length of time, location, and activities.
Length of Time: Look at how long you can take a break in the next week. Can you only spare a lunch hour? Great! Can you do a whole afternoon or morning? Block it out. How about an evening? Put it on your schedule.
Location: You don’t have to go far away to get a mini-retreat. It should just be somewhere out of your normal realm. Leonie Dawson went to a park. It could be a natural place close to where you live (park, seashore, river) or somewhere else that invokes relaxation and peace (like a museum or library).
Activities: Decide what you want to do. Maybe it could involve reading and reflection; planning; dreaming; or meditation. Any activitity should be peaceful, and not stressful, or you defeat the purpose of the retreat.
Examples of Mini-Retreats
An afternoon at the ocean. Since I live close to the ocean, I love going in the off-season and sitting on the sand. I can stare at the waves and synchronize my breath with the water.
Lunch break “in the forest”. We have a wide stand of trees in a gully behind my workplace. On nice days, I take a folding chair out of my car, position my back to the parking lot and look into the trees. I spend the time drawing or doodling or listening to calming music.
Walking meditation. Some times I may only have fifteen minutes to give myself a chance to unwind. I will put on some meditative music and head out on a walk around my neighborhood.
Coffee shop observation. If I feel a need to be around others, I will take a notebook and go to the locally-owned coffeeshop and watch people. This is particularly nice during the rain.
You don’t have to go far, or for long, to get the benefit of a retreat. Please share if you have ever done something like this, telling us how and when!
Photo by AlicePopkorn