Why an At-Home Retreat?
My husband was going to be out of out town for a few days, so I thought I might give myself some retreat time while he way away. I looked at a few places not too far from where I live and then had the thought, “I have the whole place to myself, why do I need to go anywhere?” I don’t travel light and the thought of packing to be gone just a few days was not appealing. Why not be at a place where I have all the comforts of home? Meaning my actual home? As an added bonus, retreating at home was budget friendly. So, I did a little research, and created an at-home retreat!
My At-Home Retreat Experience
My connection to Source/Divine/Creator/God deepened over the weekend, and I gained lots insights and “aha” moments. Revisiting my creative side was great. I realized I can incorporate these soul nourishing ideas easily into my daily life. I can take time to see a sunset, do a coloring page or kiddie craft, use my salt lamp, run my diffuser, and many of the other retreat activities any time I’d like. Retreating at home did require some self-discipline, as I had easy access to potential distractions, like the TV, my phone, and computer. Shortly after my retreat time, I had a spiritual direction/guidance session, which was helpful for reflecting upon my retreat experience. Next time, I will consider getting spiritual direction/guidance before and during my time “away” and creating a focus or intention for my retreat. If you’re interested in getting spiritual guidance on your retreat, contact me at joycarter.net for more information. I also have videos on my website at https://joycarter.net/blog/ on topics such as stress management, using visualization, self-care ideas, creating a personal oasis, and a mindful eating meditation that you can use for your retreat.
Overall, I really enjoyed my at-home retreat and will be doing it again the next time I have the house to myself for a few days. Full disclosure, I did attend a birthday brunch for a friend during my retreat time, though I didn’t drive and felt it was a nice “break,” especially since I was spending so much time alone during those four days.
Thinking about creating your own at-home retreat? Continue reading to find out more about my experience, and for tips and resources. Feel free to borrow my ideas or create your own. Happy Retreating!
At-Home Retreat Tips & Resources
-Create a schedule (or don’t): Clear your schedule for the time you want to retreat. A lot of the articles suggested making a schedule for the day, and there are even sample schedules for half and full day retreats. While I didn’t have a timed schedule, I did have a morning and evening routine. I left the middle of the day free to choose what I wanted to do. I already read spiritual texts, journal, and meditate every morning, so I kept that as the morning routine. In the evenings I would go to the park and watch the sunset, come home and eat dinner, then watch a spiritual/inspirational movie. Before going to sleep I read spiritual text. I suggest giving yourself “breaks” if you choose to go deeply into your practice.
-Disconnect as much as you can: If you can completely disconnect, that’s great. As a solo-preneur and one-woman show, I can’t completely disconnect, so here is what I did to compromise. I set my phone to “Do Not Disturb” and I turned off all notifications on my phone. I notified people that I would be offline for a few days before and set out of office responses on my phone greeting and email. I posted on social media post stating I would be offline for a few days. I allowed myself to check emails and such once in the morning and once at night in the event that there was something that needed my immediate attention. I only watched the movies that I picked each night and no other TV. My computer was used only for streaming retreat related audio and video.
-Pretend you’re on vacation: If you’re on vacation, you’re typically not cleaning and doing yard work and such, so those are off-limits while on retreat. Make sure your house is clean and you have enough comfy clean clothes to wear during your retreat. If you must do chores, do them mindfully and limit your time doing them. It takes some discipline to avoid getting distracted by your “to-do” list when retreating at home.
-Make sure you have food available that takes little to no prep: Lighter, healthy food is suggested, though I did have some chocolate treats to enjoy. Some articles suggested preparing meals before. I had cooked main dishes and sides ready to heat up, along with sandwich fixings, and bag salad; items which did not involve extensive prep and clean up.
-Make sure you have your necessities on hand before the retreat: While you don’t need to stay in the house and/or sacrifice if there’s something you need, you don’t want to interrupt your retreat time running back and forth to the store and/or doing errands that could be done before or after the retreat.
-Create an activities list: I made a list of activities before the retreat, so I wouldn’t have to come up with ideas on the fly. The list of activity ideas I made for my retreat, with some added details for your information is below.
My Retreat Activities List
This is the list of all the activity ideas I had for my retreat. I didn’t do all of them, as checking all of the items off the list wasn’t my goal.
• Watch a movie: I watched Awake: The life of Yogananda; 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama; The Shack (The Shack’s subject matter was a bit intense for me while in retreat mode, though you can take a look at the movie description and decide for yourself). Most of these titles are available at your local library or on streaming services.
• Go to the park/Find a labyrinth/Get out in nature/Watch the sunset: Use this labyrinth locator to find one near you https://labyrinthlocator.com/ or try these virtual ones here https://labyrinthsociety.org/flash/labyrinth.htm. Don’t know what a labyrinth is? Check out this site to learn more https://labyrinthsociety.org/
• Get a massage or other spa/wellness treatment: Don’t count out massage, yoga, and aesthetic schools, discount sites and coupons to save on these services if you are on a budget. I ended up not doing this, though it’s definitely a possibility for future retreats.
• Read/Journal/Meditate/Pray: Read books about spirituality that resonate with you. Consider getting a daily meditation book or look online for daily meditations. You don’t need a fancy journal for your practice. I use spiral notebooks, which I stock up on during back-to-school sales. Some people enjoy using pretty journals to write in which is fine too. I like the spiral notebooks because they have no binding/spine, so they’re easier for me to write in. For a list of books to read on your retreat, click here to see a list of spiritual books I recommend.
• Draw, color, do crafts, or puzzles: I went to the dollar store and picked up a puzzle, some coloring pages, and kiddie crafts that looked like they would be fun. Puzzles can cause some people stress, so if that’s the case for you, choose another creative activity that focuses your attention and you find relaxing. Here are links to a stress relieving coloring book and colored pencils if you would rather order online.
• Diffuse essential oils: Choose relaxing scents such as lavender, or relaxing oil blends. Try Blue Sky Oils https://www.blueskyoils.com/joy-carter/. You can order online or visit the store in Mesa.
• Attend worship, prayer, meditation, and/or spiritual services
• Audio and video from inspirational speakers: Dharma Seed posts audio recordings of Dharma Talks that were given at Buddhist retreats. There are thousands of talks posted there, so you’re sure to find a topic that resonates with you. And many of them include meditation practices, so if you’re new to meditation, this might be a good way to start. Click here to access the talks https://dharmaseed.org/talks/
• Yoga/Pilates/Walking/Exercise: I recommend doing energizing exercises early in the day, and calming ones later in the day. If there’s something you do regularly, you could stay in that routine if you choose. One of the benefits of doing a stay at home retreat, you can still attend your regular gym or fitness class if you want. Check out Principle Pilates and Fitness for great Pilates classes if you are in the Chandler area. Click here to visit their website http://www.myprinciplefitness.com/ and learn more.
• Bath: Add bubbles, bath bombs, essential oils, salts, or anything else you find soothing and relaxing. If you choose to do a salt bath, don’t soak for more than 20 minutes and be sure to rinse off after the bath to remove any toxins that have been released during the bath.
• Sit by the fire pit
• Smudge/Light candles/Salt Lamp
• Play piano/Listen to calming music
Hope these give you inspiration to try your own retreat soon! Thanks for reading!