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Retreats Revive Mind, Body, and Spirit

From taking a spiritual retreat to unplugging at home, escaping from everyday distractions can help restore balance to your life.

DIY Retreats: Strategies for Taking Time Out at Home continued...

The secret, experts say, is having a sense of purpose. It’s about slowing down. Successful retreats, whether you fly off for a weekend or take 15 minutes out of your day, is about being, not doing. Retreat is all about intent and regularity.

“You can create a sense of retreat in your everyday space by having little rituals that work for you,” Shamir suggests. “Light a candle. If you are a mother, take an undisturbed bath. Go to a movie where you don’t have to do anything. Drink a cup of tea slowly and read a book. My expert advice is to find these stolen moments in your every day instead of trying to block out time on the weekend.”

Edwige Gilbert is a wellness and energy coach in West Palm Beach, Fla., and author of the book The Fresh Start Promise: 28 Days to Total Mind, Body, Spirit Transformation. In addition to designing stress management programs for Smith Barney, CitiGroup, and MTV, Gilbert has helped many individuals maintain emotional balance and create joie de vivre with home-based techniques.

“It is far more challenging to create a spa atmosphere at home, but also much more rewarding than going to a spa,” Gilbert says via email. “You retreat inside yourself wherever you go, so going on vacation to a spa may not be nearly as relaxing and will not teach you how to recreate that tranquility when you’re back in your day-to-day life, which is what you really need.” She recommends a host of possibilities, from meditation and visualization exercises to spa-like treatments, such as mud packs, to a picnic.

The Benefits of Taking Regular Retreats

Whatever the activity, the keys to a successful retreat are relaxation, clearing, and centering.

Marlene Chism, a personal development expert based in Springfield, Mo., has a ritual of uninterrupted reading, journaling, and meditation before she begins her day. It’s a practice she also recommends to her clients.

“I created a room specifically for this practice and it has made a tremendous difference in my relationships, my well-being, and my career,” she says via email. “There are four specific benefits: The practice keeps me centered and focused throughout the day; my creative ideas come at this time of stillness; I have more energy and less stress; and I have a heightened sense of awareness that helps me to eliminate negativity.”

Parks agrees.

“Our culture applauds us for taking things in, thinking on our feet, and constantly being in motion. Retreat is the antithesis of that. A longer retreat tends to bear more fruit, but all retreats are fruitful. There’s nourishment in stillness.”

No matter where or how you find inner peace, Naples, Fla., psychotherapist and author Caryn Sabes Hackers underscores the importance of making retreats a regular part of your life.

“To allow the important physical and chemical changes that occur during relaxation is a key element to its success. It’s a tough world. Honor the marvelous machine that is our body -- allow it to recharge.”

Reviewed on May 22, 2008

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