One of my greatest joys in life is going on retreat - setting aside time in this busy life and unplugging from daily distractions and obligations. Upon returning from one luxurious week, a dear friend inquired as to how I re-enter life after being away. It's a provocative question and one I can only answer for myself. I imagine others may ponder this same thought. I've consistently noticed that few people choose to take time for themselves and even fewer know how to integrate the gift once they return. Some find it impossible and others don't even try. Wouldn't it be wonderful to engage in a life where each day felt as comfortable as a retreat?
Staying on retreat, like most valuable things in life, is a practice. It's not unlike engaging in studies at school or learning to stay on the yoga mat. It can be likened to running a marathon and training with never-ending miles on the road. Have you ever seen the face of someone who's just finished a 26.2 mile race? While their body may be aching with sore joints and blistered feet, the sense of accomplishment, joy and well-being resonates around them as the exhilaration far outweighs the pain. Similarly, the practice of daily retreat can magnify ongoing happiness and nurture satisfied longevity.
As my friend asked the question, "how do you re-enter," I quickly heard my answer, "I actually live on retreat." My life is filled with delight of my own making and all I have to do is remember that. Does it mean life is easy? Heck no! I still have laundry to do, groceries to buy and relationships to navigate, but even as I write those words, I realize and notice how grateful I am to have clothes to wash, food to buy, and people to love. As I remember the idea that life is my retreat, the notion of how to re-enter gently drifts away.
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