Some days I’m just tired. I can’t seem to find the energy to exercise, cook, chat, or tackle any of the zillion and one things I could, or should, be accomplishing. But, rather than forcing myself out of my funk, which is sometimes necessary, I might decide to just go with the feeling…and have a personal meditation retreat day. Whether indoors or out, I can meditate for extended periods of time, and be blessed with the benefits.
- I might choose to practice mindful walking while taking a leisurely walk outdoors. Part of the time I’ll notice how each part of my body feels as it moves from one spot to another, and part of the time I’ll consider the sounds around me.
- Listening meditation will allow me an opportunity to pay closer attention to the sounds of breezes, birds, and neighborhood pets. Simply listing, in my mind, each sound I hear, whether a voice from someone nearby or the sound I hear as I swallow, the activity will keep my mind from yapping at me about what took place in the past, or what might happen in the future. Fairly soon, I can usually count on myself to notice the sound of myself breathing.
- Mindful breathing will give me a chance to focus on nothing but my breath, allowing all other thoughts and chores to drop away for a short time. Never trying to control my breath, I will simply breathe, and notice: the rise and fall of my belly and chest; the temperature of the air as it leaves my nose and hits my upper lip. I will even imagine the oxygen traveling throughout my body and to my extremities, and then working its way out again.
- Whether on my walk, or during a formal sitting meditation, I may take time to enjoy a recording of calming music, a lecture by a meditation guru, or even listen to a guided meditation.
- The day’s experience would also include opportunities for mindful eating. Really taking the time to use all of my senses with anything I eat or drink, and appreciating how many people it took for that food to make its way into my home, is something that we should all consider.
- Finally, I’ll take the time to think of the gifts in my world. Family, friends, and “friends who have become family” have a much higher “rank” in my heart than any tangible belongings. Yes, I know I’m lucky to have comforts in my life, and appreciate those immensely, but I know there would be little meaning if I did not have those important people who are a part of my daily experiences.
A day at home, alone, for a mindfulness retreat is a gift to give to yourself. The fact is, there will never be enough time for mindfulness; you have to conscientiously take time for mindfulness. It is such a simple practice, but there is nothing easy about it. Turning off. Tuning out. Neither using a phone nor a computer.
It’s HARD to make yourself take the time that you cannot imagine you have.
Until you do.
And, then, you won’t believe the difference it will make in your life.