Becomming Unplugged - A Personalized Retreat

Do you remember the olden days, before there were even answering machines? If you weren't home to answer the phone, people just waited and tried again. Did you ever consciously and willingly choose to be constantly available to everyone whenever they deemed necessary? Did you ever agree to the nonstop onslaught of emails, cell phones, commercials, television, newspapers, and radios? When did you decide that immediate access to an unending flow of information was to your best advantage?

Think of all that we have sacrificed by our dependence on these modern technologies? We have lost the ability to hear ourselves think. We have forgotten the beauty of silence pierced only by the sounds of nature. And we have become human doers rather than human beings.

One way to help remedy this situation is to take a personal retreat. Set aside an entire day and become completely unplugged from your cell phone, blackberry, iPod, computer, television, and radio. It is amazing to discover that even when you're completely out of touch, somehow the world keeps turning without you and your friends, coworkers, and loved ones do survive without your help. Even more stunning, you begin to hear yourself think. You begin to reconnect with your heart's longings, and you begin to remember who you are and why you are here.

Of course, it is always wonderful to retreat to a beautiful location, but when that is not possible you can experience a personalized retreat right in you own home and local surroundings. Here are six guidelines for designing your own retreat:

First: Take out your calendar and block off a day. Keep that day free from any and all obligations. Let your friends, coworkers, and loved ones know that you will be unavailable for the entire day. Make alternative arrangements for any childcare, meals, or work issues that are necessary.

Second: Gather your supplies. On the day of your retreat, you don't want to waste any time on unnecessary errands. So make sure there is gas in your car and food for the day. You may also want to have a journal at hand and any art supplies that you enjoy. Gather all you retreat material into a carrying bag so you can move from place to place without disruption.

Third: To plan or not to plan, that is the question. Depending on your nature and your needs, you may want to have a general outline for the day or you may want to enjoy a completely unscheduled, unscripted adventure. For example, you may want to schedule a massage, or you may just want to continually ask yourself throughout the day, "What do I feel like doing at this very moment?" Whatever plans you do make be willing to drop them to follow any spur of the moment incites.

Fourth: Fill your day with mindfulness. Invite all your senses to savor each moment. Warm your self with your favorite activities be it reading, journaling, going for a walk, painting, sitting by the fire, etc. Most important, be quiet and listen! Listen to your heart, your intuition, your inner knowing, and let their messages guide you through the day.

Fifth: When you feel complete or your allotted time has ended, give thanks for all you have experienced. Fully acknowledge the gifts of the day perhaps by journaling or by creating a closing ritual. Then, slowly, gently re-enter your daily life. Have a quiet evening and wake up the next morning refreshed and renewed.

Sixth: Get out you calendar and make a date with your self for another retreat.

The Lesson of the Fox

Lately I’ve been going lots of long walks, savoring the sun shining on the glorious fall trees. It comforts me to be embraced by nature in the beauty of the present moment.

One day as I was walking the periphery of a field, there was a fox hunting for rodents in the tall grasses.  We both froze, when we spotted each other at the same moment. The fox stealthy crouched down and disappeared. I could not see him but I knew he was cautiously watching me.

This was the third fox I had seen at different locations this week which is unusual. So I looked up the fox totem on my phone.  This is the message that spoke to me with this particular encounter:

“The Fox's ability to meld into one's surroundings and be unnoticed is a powerful gift when one is observing the activities of others.

If Fox has chosen to share its medicine with you, it is a sign that you are to become like the wind, which is unseen yet is able to weave into and through any location or situation. You would be wise to observe the acts of others rather than their words at this time. Use your cunning nature in a positive way; keep silent about who and what and why you are observing.”

Once again nature has shared her wisdom and shown me the path to walk.