Creating a Solo Retreat at Home - A Wise use of Precious Time

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Create a solo retreat at home? Why would you want to do this? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first have you ever been on a retreat? If no, you deserve one and I truly hope you’ll read on. If yes, what do you remember most about it? I have such vivid cherished memories of the first retreat I shared with a group of women on the island of Corsica, France. It was the first retreat I hosted as co-creator of Travel To Transform International and the experience was so rewarding both as a leader, but also as a woman sharing hopes, dreams, laughter, sorrow and more than a few bottles of Corsican wine with a group of amazing women.

We pushed ourselves outside our comfort zone as we scrambled over boulders to reach a gorgeous alpine lake nestled at the top of a peak. We encouraged, supported and gave each other new inspiration, new ideas and hope at our sunset chats gathered around our outdoor dining table overlooking the coast with the sun slowly sinking in the background.  We breathed deeply practicing yoga in the cool morning air on the upper deck and setting our intention and tone for the day ahead.

 

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We learned the ins and outs of growing olives and seeing what takes place on their journey to become olive oil via the interpretation of visitor from Poland that happened to be taking her yearly visit to the same tiny olive farm and factory at the exact same time we were there. Lucky for us she also spoke Russian, the native language of the owner and she kindly translated our tour through the facility. Together we concluded our visit with a shot of Limoncello and a typical Corsican toast “For Love!”.

So many joy filled moments, so much laughter, so much fun. Yet what we came away with was even more precious. We came away with a renewed sense of focus, a strong feeling of purpose and a plan. Each in our own we, we jumpstarted our paths forward in our own directions by allowing this time for ourselves. And this is why you should go on a retreat.

With so many of us choosing not to travel this year, we can still create a lovely solo retreat at home or close to home. Let’s do this together! I’ll walk you through the steps to make your solo retreat at home restorative, insightful and a satisfying success. Let’s begin!

Determine the Date & Time & Location for your Solo Retreat

Take a little time to consider a date that you will be less likely to feel the need to check in on anything or anyone. Decide how much time can you carve out of your busy schedule. A full weekend? A day? Even a few hours is better than nothing. Now block this date and time out on your calendar and let your friends and family know about your plans a week or so in advance. 

Next pick a place. If you’ve got the whole house to yourself great, but if you are sharing space with others, choose a room or area that others can avoid for your chosen time.  If not a certain room, perhaps a covered porch or plan to set up a sheltered area in a garden or the backyard. Once you’ve decided upon your location, you can let your mind begin pondering how to make the space feel special for your intended activities.  

Set an Intention for Why you are Creating your Solo Retreat 

This simple process in your mind can be the difference between a nice leisurely afternoon versus one where you end the day re-energized, excited to greet the days to come and with a purposeful path forward. Take a moment or two to quietly ask yourself the question:  What would be most beneficial to focus on during this time to myself? Here are a few possibilities to ponder:

  • To Restore - Have you been under a significant amount of stress? Are you overworked? Overwhelmed? Just plain tired and worn to a frazzle?

  • To Chart a Course Forward - Do you want to move a project forward but don’t know where to start?  Need to craft a plan or next steps forward? Simply need to make a decision?

  • To Nurture - Do you spend lots of time caring for others, but rarely carve out time for nurturing yourself? Do you simply feel like you are go, go, going and need a break?

  • To Allow Creativity to Flow - Are you a creative person, but feeling stuck in a rut? Are you just generally feeling bored? Do you crave more fun in your life?

  • Gather Inspiration - Are you struggling to find the motivation to start something or move it forward?  

  • To Ground & Recenter - Are you simply not feeling like yourself? Feeling a little disconnected? Anxious? Off Center?

Once you have decided on your intention, write it down where you can use it to intentionally refocus your energy when you are ready to begin your retreat. It’s not necessary, but you could even make it pretty by putting it on a little card and decorating it so that you can sit it out where you will see it often when your retreat begins.  

Create a Loosely Crafted Plan for your Solo Retreat

Another nice to have, but not necessary, is a little formalized plan on paper for your special time alone. You can print this out on colored paper, use colored pencils to create, or just take a few moments to jot down thoughts of what you would like to do during this time. Regardless of what makes it into your grand plan, have the mindset that you are going to allow this time to unfold in an easy organic manner. If you are really enjoying one activity, intend to stick with it until your heart tells you it feels like moving on to something else. The plan is more to set the wheels of the time in motion than to be a set agenda that needs to be followed.  

A Sampling of Solo Retreat Activities:

  • Yoga - Move to your own flow or follow the lead of one of the many on-line instructors

  • A mindful walk - Try walking to the pace of your breathing (such as 1-4 steps on an inhale and an equal number of steps on the exhale). Or try alternating by noticing tiny objects then massive ones.  Or try focusing on using one of your senses or each in turn.

  • Take a bath or soak your feet

  • Make a DIY body scrub or facemask

  • Read an inspiring book

  • Journal - google “journal prompts” for ideas to get you started

  • Create a Heart Map or a Desire Map

  • Create a Vision Board

Solo Retreat Day Minus One - Set the Stage

The time has arrived for your retreat! Ideally this next step will take place the day before, but if time does not permit, just make sure to get this out of the way first before you announce to yourself that you are entering your sacred retreat time. This is the time to make your space special, comfortable, beautiful and inviting. Now is the time to pretend you are the owner of a spa and are highly invested in making your clientele (you) not only comfortable, but also able to fully relax and leave all daily worries and stresses behind. It goes without saying that the area should be clean and uncluttered. Add a few pillows to where you will lounge and perhaps a soft throw or two to create cozy comfort. Cut flowers always adds an element of special to a space. Perhaps you will want to diffuse some essential oils. Light some candles. Have all of this ready as well.

Another helpful task to take care of in advance is to purchase or make what you will want for nourishment and hydration. If you can pre-prep any meals and arrange some healthy snacks in pretty containers or even your china the day before, this would be ideal. Most spas have glass pitchers with spouts filled with fruit infused water to encourage hydration during your visit. You can do this too for your home retreat the morning of or a day in advance. Just a few flavor suggestions for you to try:

  • Sliced lemons, limes and/or cucumbers

  • Crushed raspberries

  • Slices of watermelon or cantaloupe

  • Chopped strawberries

What else will you need for your planned activities? Have all of these things ready for use, perhaps in a large basket or special container waiting for you. A few items for you to consider:

  • A yoga mat

  • Lotion or body butter

  • Nail polish

  • Foot soak materials - container, bath salts, herbs or flower petals, essential oil

  • DIY body scrub or face mask materials

  • Uplifting music, that may even encourage you to dance and move with the rhythm.

  • Pencil, paper, colored pencils, markers etc. for brainstorming and creative expression

Do you intend to take a walk or get out in nature? Decide ahead of time where you are going and how to get there. What do you intend to wear? Think luxurious or authentic or super cozy and comfy. Lastly, remember to remind friends and family of your plans so that they can support you in this well deserved time for self introspection and care.

 

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Solo Retreat Day

Yes! It’s your day. Your time. It’s all about you today. Give yourself complete and full permission to move slowly. Unplug completely - turn off the phone. Intend to leave the television off and the computer powered down. Let your mind and body bask in the simple pleasures today. Light your candles, start the diffuser, turn on your chosen music and let your retreat begin.

Begin by grounding and centering yourself. In a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and begin to let your mind follow the path of your breath. After a minute or two, begin to breathe more deeply. Fill your belly with a deep full breath and let it continue to expand upwards, widening your ribs and filling your chest. See if you can release this breath fully on the exhale that follows and continue breathing deeply, without strain - deep inhales, full, complete exhales. Allow any thoughts that enter your mind to float away on the breath. It can help to visually imagine them doing so.

When you feel calm and connected, set your intention for the day. I recommend stating this aloud - announce it to yourself and the universe that this is your intention for the day. If you are seeking direction or answers to a question, set the expectation at this time, that you will uncover the answers you are looking for over the course of your retreat. Then let your day unfold in a magical way that is supportive of what you most need at this time.  

Namaste my friends and happy retreating…

 

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