Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Friday, 16 December 2011

Inside: On the Value of Retreat

I have a friend who goes on retreat every year, between December 20 and January.  She cleans the house, stocks the fridge and pantry and organizes her outside workload.  Then, at the dawn of the Winter Solstice, she unplugs her computer and her television, turns off her phone and stays inside.  From the Solstice to the New Year, K remains alone, in silence, interacting only with her thoughts, in an effort to reconnect with her self.  (Yes, the cat gets fed.)

In this winter season, we get caught up in the frenzy of cooking, cleaning, shopping, knitting and social activities. Many of us find ourselves drained of energy and patience.  Rather than enjoying all the action, I notice that I'm becoming more short-tempered, frustrated and, well, just downright touchy over matters that really aren't that important.  Breath work, asanas and meditation aren't enough to keep me balanced.  And so, I retreat.

We may not be able to lock ourselves away for a week or two, but when you're overwhelmed by the energy around you, take a few moments to move inwards and cherish yourself.  Head to your fibre room, your meditation space, close the door and sit for a while.  Put aside that holiday knitting for a few hours.  Knit, spin, weave or engage in fibre work solely for your own enjoyment.

Most importantly, stop talking.   We tell ourselves that words explain, communicate and heal, but sometimes, especially when we are stressed, we use words as weapons or as a means to fill space.  We are incapable of listening, of hearing what others tell us or the messages of our inner voices.

This month, consider giving yourself what may be the most precious gift, the gift of silence.  A few moments, hours, a day or two may be all you need to focus your scattered energy, and appreciate the wonders around you.

File:Om hindu.jpg
"OM" from Wikimedia Commons


  1. Retreat is a wonderful thing! I have trouble setting up one at home, however. The pull of chores and work are too strong for my weak will. This year I am lucky, however, because I will be at a Rohatsu sesshin between Xmas and New Year's. Seven days of silence! A lovely way to (silently) ring out 2011.

    And thanks for the legs up the wall recommendation - a great one! So perfect. Thank you!

  2. I love doing legs up the wall, for just about any reason.

    Enjoy your retreat!

  3. Great post! I have been doing my own "winter retreat" of sorts for quite a few years now by replacing my annual summer holiday with a winter one. It officially started today and goes until January 3 - I love the season and I love winter. Despite the holiday madness around me - this is a quiet time for me. "Chop wood, carry water" is my mantra and baking cookies, wrapping gifts are all done "with intention" now. With everyone away at school and working my days of silence are treasured... happy winter solstice!

  4. Thanks, judi! My best wishes for a quiet, happy solstice season.