Finding retreat

view to oceanIf you’re like most of the people I talk with your life is full. To the top. You might even call it overwhelming.

A retreat sounds wonderful. Time to relax, pamper yourself, sit with your feet up…

But even the idea of creating a retreat may sound stressful. Even if money’s not an issue, you still have to make time to find a place. Then you need to block out time in your schedule to be away from work.

Every day retreat

What if you just can’t see getting away for a week or even a weekend? Are you doomed to a life of drudgery? Don’t despair. You can retreat everyday.

Several years ago I worked with a busy doctor. In addition to her practice she was a single mom to two bright and busy teenage girls. That’s a full plate.  She knew she needed to reduce her stress. She needed more breathing room.

It wasn’t that she never found time for retreat. She found weekend time to head to the coast and went to Italy for a couple of weeks. But her day-to-day life was intense enough that she knew she needed something more integrated with the rest of her life. What she was doing felt like getting a big glass of water and then expecting that to quench her thirst for a month.

So we looked at her life to discover ways she could add a bit of retreat into each day. She turned her request for rest into a win-win. When she invited female clients to take a deep breath and bring their arms overhead in preparation for their breast exam, she mirrored the request. She paused from doing and inhaled deeply. This way she got a mini-retreat multiple times a day.

Another woman I worked with incorporated a breathing practice into her daily commute. She had ten minutes between the time she dropped her daughter off at school and the time she started her workday. Those ten minutes helped renew her every morning.

How can you add in a pause?

Feel like you’d benefit from an integrated refresh pause?

  1. First look for something you do everyday. Maybe it’s answering the phone, driving your car, or checking your schedule.
  2. Next pair a pause with that activity. It could be focused attention on your breath, a moment of mindfulness, a prayer, a chant, a gratitude.
  3. Repeat. The renewal comes from the regular pairing of these activities. Commit to this new habit for the rest of the year and notice if you feel less like a desperate animal waiting to be let out of a cage.
  4. Share your wisdom here. Your idea might just inspire someone else.