Retain Post Retreat High
I’ve attended multiple silent retreats, and have enjoyed each one of them. I often wonder after each of these how to retain post retreat high? This was particularly the case after a 5 day silent yin yoga retreat in the hills of Northern Italy at Mandali. It’s a bit lavish at Mandali, as it has a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room that overlooked Lake Orta. Therefore, it was more luxurious than many retreat centers and would take your breath and sound away (if we were allowed to speak). We were literally walking among the clouds. It was idealistic and perfect, but how do I go from that to my reality that exists down the mountain?
Life post retreat generally carries a high. You are away from your problems, responsibilities, and in a silent retreat you are also away from having to converse in everyday social situations. Nothing is really required of you. Additionally, your commitment to the retreat activities are optional.
Going silently inward for days is rejuvenating. Your contemplative mind is being fed as you detox from the emails, social media, internet searching and texts that await. For several days, I was able to pause my planning mind. This included the trips I wanted to take, list of to do’s, goals to achieve, and numerous other tasks. Giving myself the gift of space was truly vital.
Every moment was not bliss. Other thoughts arose of regret, guilt, sadness, loss, and loneliness. But with the structure and content of the retreat, I was able to note the cycle of an emotion. Birth, life, and death. This then would give rise to another emotion mixed with thoughts. The cycle would repeat. We practiced in formal seated meditation, walking meditation, and mindful eating.
But how do we integrate that into my everyday life?
5 Tips to Integrate Retreats
It’s easy to write and share knowledge when we are in a blissed state, but the post retreat crash is real. The question of how to integrate reality with what was experienced at a spiritual retreat each time is spiritual work. It’s different for each of us. Below are some options that can retain post retreat high.
- Take a Digital Detox. Devote a specific amount of time per week, where you are not scrolling or searching online. Vow to have your mind to be free from technology at least once a week. For tips on this, check out the blog post https://amodernpilgrimage.com/why-taking-a-digital-detox-is-a-good-idea/
- Keep up your Daily Meditation. When we are in a silent retreat, multiple meditation sessions are carved out for us throughout the day. There are no other tasks or responsibilities pulling at us and everyone else is meditating. We build up our meditation muscles on retreat and in groups, but the important part now is that you retain this during the week. The amount of time is dependent on you but it’s important to carve out space each day for meditation.
- Take a daily or weekly Nature Walk. Oftentimes during retreats, in between meditations, we have opportunities to explore the retreat center’s grounds. We have time to experience and be around nature. Now you have the opportunity to transmute that wonder home. Take walks in nature without talking on the phone or listening to a podcast or book. Interact with what’s in your atmosphere.
- Get up at the same Meditation Hour. Louise Hay once said “How you start your day is how you live your day. How you live your day is how you live your life.” Those precious moments in the morning are golden. Recognize it as such and make the most of it.
- Take one lesson from your retreat and reflect on this frequently. For me and my most recent silent retreat, there was a component that I wanted to stay with me. It was a reminder of the following specific concept which is included in many wisdom traditions. Who we are is not these fleeting emotions we have, what we accomplish, who we once were, or who we strive to be. Although it seems cheesy and corny, we have unlimited potential within. We are light, awareness, space, and inherently good beings. Pema Chödrön sums it up by saying “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
Re-entry Post Retreat
Of those retain post retreat high tips listed, it’s important to explore what may suit you. We may get up early each morning to find those precious moments where the world is quiet and asleep. Some of us may choose to go for frequent walks in nature to change one’s state or going for a long drive on an early Sunday morning where nobody is on the road but you. After retreat, see how to take that contemplative you back home and integrate that into everyday life. This is the work. This is the real opportunity to practice what you have learned. Having the opportunity to go on a silent retreat is a luxury, reflect on what you learned, and ensure you take the time to integrate it into your everyday life. For additional resources post retreat, check out this blog post https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-maintain-healthy-habits-after-a-retreat