In the previous part of Serenity in the Trenches, we identified the signs that tell us we need to recharge our batteries. In this episode we think about the practical side of refuelling the tank.
What are your go-to sources of self-care and rest?
This is a word that comes up a lot. Carina Nickerson mentions it, and I’ve had some lovely discussions with Laurie Helgoe about the importance of it for introverts.
At its core, “retreating allows us to move away from the din of outside stimulation and to adopt a more natural and authentic rhythm.”
Laurie goes on to say that, “for introverts, retreating is more than a movement away. It is a compelling pull toward. In the quiet space of a retreat, we dream, we hear the voice within, we can remember what we love, notice what we have, and envision what we want.”
This is such a beautiful reminder that ‘retreat’ isn’t simply an escape from all that is bad. It is a movement towards all that is good. And as introverts it is of paramount importance because the din of the world ‘out there’ can drown out that quietly creative voice within.
Laurie points out, “because introverts are so mentally “absorbent,” the concerns and wishes of others too easily displace our own. Though we love to make sense of everything in our worlds, doing so becomes taxing. We need to refuel.”
And this is where rest, self-care, and retreat all come in.
Retreat Towards, Not Away From
In this part of Serenity in the Trenches we explore the go-to sources of refuelling the tank. Self-care has become a slightly trite phrase used to sell bath salts and chocolate. But this fails to appreciate the more transformational and foundational aspects of its true meaning in our lives.
We hear from all 23 contributors about the importance of taking this seriously. And they share their struggles and successes with their own ‘retreat towards’ practices.
Alice Southern, Beth Buelow, Boom Shikha, Cameron Airen, Carina Nickerson, Cat Rose, Jacob Nordby, Jacquelyn Strickland, Jim Woods, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Josie George, Lauren Sapala, Leah Burkhart, Mark Pierce, Michaela Chung, Nancy Ancowitz, Neil Hughes, Sarah Kuhn, Sarah Santacroce, Thea Orozco, Tracy Cooper, Tracy Guillet, Tuula Ahde
Laurie suggests that “we need both, personal and collective retreats. A solo retreat gets us up close and personal with ourselves, which can expose vulnerabilities as well as desires.”
This is the bedrock of a life that carries meaning and joy. We’ve got to go inwards and explore the depths of our biggest dreams, hopes, and fears, so that we can design a life that reflects all of us. This is not a one time event, but happens over time, step by step, moment by moment. Laurie warns against placing all the pressure on a one-off retreat.
“Maybe the bed is too hard, or the mosquitos are hungry, or you discover difficult emotions you’ve neglected. We are better able to mindfully accept such experiences when we have an attitude of discovery. And we foster this attitude when we make retreating a practice — a renewable resource. So we have the annual or semi-annual or quarterly retreat away, but we also take ourselves on regular “dates” and walks and into favorite hideouts on a regular basis.”
The contributors explore how they structure their own regular retreats. There are many similar themes that emerge, but also plenty of differences in what works for each of them.
And this is an important thing to remember. We get to craft this for ourselves. It’s not a situation where we can paint by numbers. We can’t copy what someone else has found useful, believing that it is the magic bullet. Always be skeptical about anyone who positions themselves as a guru or the person with ‘THE way’ to the secret, answer, solution etc.
Life is an experiment. It’s our canvas to paint. And we get to be a part of the process of design and crafting. So use the insights and advice in this episode with a critical and open mind. Take ideas, play with them, add others, and drop what doesn’t work. Over time you will begin to whittle down a mindset, routine, and life that works for you.
On Getting Away and Connecting With Yourself
Laurie says, “I recommend finding a nourishing space, and this will be defined differently for different people. A beautiful natural setting allows us to settle into nature’s rhythm and restore our sense of awe. Alternatively, a lovely citiscape allows you to wander into coffeeshops and museum, to relish observing and playing flâneur.
I like bed-and-breakfast accommodations, as long as hosts are not intrusive, because they offer a level of “hominess” and comfort that helps me feel cared for. Retreat centers are designed to provide space and quiet.
For an introvert, the best collective retreats offer privacy within a shared setting.”
Laurie is doing the very first “Introvert Power Retreat”, at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. It’s a semi-silent retreat, in Kripalu’s Contemplative Week.
Meals are shared in silence. This represents the power of being ‘alone together’. She says, “it is the feeling we get when reading a book or writing in a journal in a coffeeshop while others engage in similar private activities.”
Find out more about what Laurie will be doing at Kripalu, where she will guide participants on a private inner journey – collectively.”
Find out more here:
Watch the Episode on YouTube:
Over to You
What are your favourite sources of retreat, rest, and recharge? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.
Listen to The Gentle Rebel (Extended Play) Private Podcast:
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