Soul Retreat: Living From Your Truth

I had a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains in front of me and the river meandering along a stony bed below, sitting in a Muskoka chair high on the ridge. The sun gave the large popcorn-shaped clouds above me a bronze ruffled-edged glow. The mountains were snow peaked, rugged and immovable.

This was my reality last weekend, out with some girlfriends away from Calgary to find soul rest. We were at Kingfold Retreat Centre. Time tends to consume me with its responsibilities and demands, pressures and challenges, moving me along the river of life at a frantic and tumbling, turbulent pace. I find I’m weary and longing for rest. Spiritual and soul renewal. I have learnt to take time; to swim, often it seems, upstream, to the river’s edge. This is where the water is less frantic, cool and calm. An ebb of peace and quiet. At first it feels foreign – lots of ‘what if’s’ and some fear that I won’t come away with what I expect. In the end, it’s what I need.

The quality of our outer life is always dependent on the quality of care we give to our soul.

Why a soul retreat? There are times when we feel our souls – thoughts, body and emotions – frazzled and depleted. What in your soul cries out for rest? As a leader of your global family, you may feel loneliness, an alien in a strange place. Perhaps you anticipate a looming relocation in the months ahead. Trying to raise TCK’s far from support networks? Maybe one of your TCK’s is special needs or has unique challenges and you’re worn out with the intense attention. Physical dis-ease wears on our souls. So do many ‘negative emotions’ like overwhelm, sadness and fear. Challenges like these, especially when persistent, suck us dry like a sponge. Dry on the inside, we can’t be our best, or give our best. Everyone, especially us, loses out. A soul retreat addresses all of this and restores the balance between the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual parts of us. It allows a shift back to living from truth and peace.

When you lose touch with inner stillness,
you lose touch with yourself.
When you lose touch with yourself,
you lose yourself in the world. —Eckhart Tolle, “Stillness Speaks”

What is a soul retreat? It’s an escape from the usual routine and challenges of every day. An experience, centuries old, of withdrawing to a quiet place, to take a view of life. To sort things out. How is life going? Where is it going? The experience can be as brief as a few moments in a busy day or as long as a month or more. Often it’s a weekend retreat… or a week away.

Six Suggestions for Soul Retreat:

1. Find a landscape and lodging that supports rest.

a. A retreat center – There are many places around the world to retreat. They can be used as a personal retreat or a guided time in community. Think about a ‘same gender’ retreat, where you can let down your guard, laugh and cry and journey together. Check out the internet (google “spiritual” or “soul retreat”) and book to commit.

b. A get away – if unable to find or afford a specific retreat centre, find a place that allows for beauty around you. Serene nature settings (mountain, beach or something in between) and reclaim the feeling of being fully alive!

2. Be fully present. Enter the time, leaving behind yesterday and don’t think about tomorrow. Shut off the cell phone. No computer. BE present to whatever activity you engage in. Use your five senses to open and appreciate the perceptions around you – colours, shapes, landscape, wildlife, sounds, textures, temperatures, foods. Take time to sleep and eat. Look after your body.

3. Self Reflect – Silence helps us enter our inward world of thoughts and emotions and see what’s there. Most of these aren’t given much airtime in our lives because noise is always present. – – – -Open up to your feelings and thoughts. Here are some questions to help guide you:
– What emotion or thought do I bring to this space?
– What is happening inside of me? Desperation? Frazzled? Loss?
– What’s my deepest longings? Needs?
– What question is stirring?
Feel the difference between wanting to fix or do something with what comes and just rest with it.

Initially these thoughts may be unsettling because they bombard you with ‘inward noise’. Notice them. If they take you away from the present (ie. “what am I going to make the family for dinner when I return?” ; “how am I going to tackle the ____ project?”), allow them to float by like an imaginary cloud. In time that the inner clatter will be replaced with calm.

From Someecards:

I laughed because, on a woman’s side, it’s completely true! How can we foster our inner guidance with this many tabs open?

4. Read and Write:

a. Spiritual Reading – whatever your faith, take time to read from meaningful books. For me, the Bible is Truth, and gives light and life to my weary soul. On soul retreats, I read only small portions, slowing down to meditate on a word or phrase and what meaning comes for my personal situation.

b. Journal – Bring a notebook to write feelings and thoughts that come. Once clamor goes, thoughts want to be noticed and attended to. There may be new thoughts from your spirit level that align with your true self. Capture discernment or clarity that comes. Dreams or longings may appear – note them.

5. Get Outside Yourself –Scientific research shows that having a connection to something bigger than ourselves, a faith or spiritual side to our lives makes us happier and healthier. To know Someone or something greater than you gives a sense of awe, wonder and connection to what’s around you. It gives purpose and meaning to your life.

“Are you tired? Worn out?… Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus – Matthew 11:28-30

6. Create. What do you love to do in your spare time? What hobbies don’t you have time for? Needlework, whittling, composing, drawing, doodling… You name it. I took Arm/Hand Knitting – just learned and 3 scarves came home with me! More than that, creativity taps into our left brain and allows opening to our spirits. It helps us to focus while just ‘being’.

By Monday morning, an unexpected phone call could have had me in a panic, stressed to the limit. It was hard, hard news. The timing of the retreat and the sense of peace and rest I had from it allowed a response of calm and grounded-ness. Even though fear and overwhelm attempt to assault my thoughts and emotions, I choose to stay in this place.

It’s worth the investment to nurture your soul. Negativity will diminish. Creativity will rise. New insights and perspectives will emerge. Demands of expat life, work and ministry will be better faced and resilience built. It allows you to live from the truth of who you really are. Try it!

What has been your experience with soul rest? Please add in the comments below.

Becky Signature 2

 

 

PS – Soul retreat can happen at home, on a park bench during lunch break, leaning against a tree waiting for your kids pick up at school, on a day’s outing somewhere quiet. Take the suggestions above and weave them into 5-30 minute blocks during your day. Small chunks of time can be nourishing and are a great place to put soul retreat into daily practise.

Comments

  1. Hi Becky,
    Thanks for this, it is a timely reminder given that I am in the middle of two weeks of my childrens vacation and trying to pack it all in, work and fun. Had five days away and it was not a rest for the soul for a variety of reasons and did make me think about what real rest is. You’ve articulated it beautifully. I’ll be looking for those 5 – 30 minutes per day in the coming weeks and months.

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