Re-Entering the World After Retreat
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself; to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others; I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” I've been told the Dali Lama starts each morning with this statement. During the past week, I've been on a yoga and meditation retreat at the Omega Institute in the bucolic Hudson Valley of New York. Before each morning meditation, we spoke his words. It became a wonderful way for our community of practitioners to begin our days of retreat. Every day, the words seemed to drop deeper and deeper into my consciousness. They opened me up to the possibilities for change and transformation—in my practice, in my life, in my little patch of the planet.
Every year, I take a long retreat as a way of stepping back from my busy world and re-assessing where I am and what I'm doing. This annual retreat re-ignites my yoga practice. I learn again that my practice is the way in. The practice is the opening. The practice is the unfolding. The practice leads me out. The practice allows me to experience natural mind; and out of natural mind I re-commit to right action, right loving, right vision.
But coming back into the world of buzz is the challenge. Easy to hold clear intention and practice right action when you're in the beautiful Hudson Valley where time stands still, surrounded by people who share your interests. The challenge comes when we come out of retreat. How do we hold fast to the new energy and commitment that arise out of retreat?
• For one, I maintain my foundational practices. Even ramp them up if I need to upon return. Good food, lots of rest, mindful movement, meditation and gratitude practice. These practices sustain me immeasurably, especially in times of disorientation.
• For another, I return to the busy-ness of my life in stages, rather than plunging full-out into the pre-retreat pace.
• And then, when I'm ready for connection with others, I seek out souls who share my desire to craft creative living, people who also want to commit to right action, right loving, right vision.
• And finally, I try to go easy on myself. To recognize that retreat, like the life of buzz, is just another staging area for cultivating natural mind and crafting a life of benefit. It's all good. It's all workable.
If you'd like to talk more about crafting a life that opens you up to the best parts of yourself, I invite you to join a small group of creatives on Thursday, July 10, here at LifeArt Studio for the monthly Creative Momentum Gathering. We're going to discuss Arianna Huffington's book Thrive, and her concrete and practical advice for living life sanely, happily, and productively. I'll be reviewing her key ideas, so don't avoid this conversation just because you haven't read the book. You'll learn what she has to say, and you might be inspired to make some small changes in your own life.
Two seats are available, so please let me know if you'd like to be added to the invitation list. We would love to have you in this conversation about thriving happily in a busy world.
Don't waste this precious day you've been given!
Photo credit: Barbara Van Dyke