As Reiki practitioners, we need our own breaks and private retreats, especially if we are going to work with clients in a professional capacity. It took me a few years into my active practice, and the intense feeling of burnout, for me to finally realize that despite the fun of my work, I'd created the very conditions that labor unions rose to power to prevents. In my head and heart I was working energetically on my business around the clock, even if I wasn't seeing clients 24/7. I didn't have space to see the long picture because I was so busy. I didn't know how essential a spiritual vacation and retreat was, until after I'd given it to myself. Sitting in meditation space, asking why I didn't have the energy and resources to do what I loved, a message came up very clearly from my soul: "You need a vacation. Now. This weekend."
I fought that voice of wisdom because I didn't feel that I actually deserved a break. Despite a lot of healing, I still felt unworthy of true rest, relaxation, and peace; I felt my worth when I was creating projects, and doing things for others. Thankfully my Angelic Guides intervened in a meditative vision, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to prioritize self-love and self care before I burned myself irrevocably into the ground.
I didn't just take a vacation; I took a spiritual retreat. Spiritual retreats allow you space to step out of your life patterns in order to see the long vision. On a spiritual retreat, you prioritize your spiritual experience, and you give your inner self the opportunity to reveal truth.
Regular vacations may be adventures that include other people, and other agendas. Spiritual retreats are a retreat inward to the core of your being, and all activities support that. For my spiritual retreat, I gave myself time and space as a priestess, minister, and spiritual teacher, to step out of all of the functioning mechanisms of my life for 4 days. I went to a nunnery for ministers, several hours away from home. I didn't answer the phone. I turned off all electronics. I became present solely for myself in the moment. It was a surprisingly emotional experience, as I discovered a well of feelings gently put aside that I hadn't had time to fully explore during all of the doing in my life.
Since that initial spiritual retreat, I've taken many others, usually annually. Sometimes they are structured and offered via retreat centers or spiritual teachers, but I tend to look at those facilitated spaces and spaces in which I'm still learning. For it to work in my life, I had to learn how to plan my own retreat, with my own inner voice leading the way. I've helped other friends do the same, and I hope these tips help you!
Start with a feeling within. Ask yourself, "Where do I need to be?" Don't overthink it. Just listen for what comes up right away. One time I asked this question and "Sacre-Coeur Church in Paris France" came up. I knew that wouldn't be possible at that time, but still I listened. I felt into what that church represented to me, and as I understood the vibe I was going for, it was easy to find somewhere else that could give me a similar experience. Your inner self may say you need to stay home for a staycation. Or you may need to get on the road. Begin with a feeling. Begin by listen. Ultimately, go with what feels most nurturing and exciting to your soul.
Decide when you can put aside 3-5 days. If you are new at this, it may be hard to justify that much time for a retreat. However, I see three days as a perfect beginning retreat. It will take at least three days for your old energy to unwind. It takes about 7-14 days for your body cycles and biorhythms to hit reset. When I first took a retreat, I couldn't afford the time. I went anyway because I knew that I couldn't afford NOT to take time, for my own well being. I have come to understand that working on the things I love when I'm exhausted does not create value. It is a violence unto myself, and a form of theft against the needs of my spirit. ...It's okay if you need to wait a little bit longer to find those days in your calendar, but prioritizing your wellbeing before you feel a need is how you create true balance and optimal health.
Commit to doing nothing on your retreat. This is not the time to catch up on old work. That is what we call a "working retreat," and those are great too, but not this time. This is also not the time to learn all of the spiritual practices you've been curious about. The primary learning you want to do, is about yourself. "Not doing" is an experience that also creates growth. If you need to, you can bring a blank journal to help sort your thoughts. Set clear parameters for your retreat so that you feel safe to do nothing. In the past, I've had a retreat begin and end with a professional Reiki healing by a local, in order to help me drop in. Other times, I've set appointments prior to my retreat, so that I could have spiritual guidance from a trusted spiritual authority, while on retreat.
Take care of home before you go. There's nothing more stressful than coming back to a pile of work. Sometimes this can't be avoided, but if there's a way to support yourself, do so before you retreat. Before you go, make sure your babysitting or petsitting extends through the entire day of your return, or even the next day, so you have time to settle in properly. Network with co-workers or assistants to handle work for not only when you're gone, but for the 2-3 days after your return. This gives you time to integrate back into life and create any necessary shifts or changes before having to jump into old patterns. I have a friend that always hires the same cleaning company when she takes vacations and retreats, so she comes home to a clean house, washed car, and well-loved pets. Anyone can make this happen, it just takes some forethought. Even if you don't know of a house cleaner, you can spend time before your retreat to pick up, take out the trash, and create peace. All of this will help you to truly let go.
My Favorite Practices
Some of my favorite practices in past retreats have included:
Having a silent Reiki healing or massage each day.
Turning off all electronic devices. Completely.
Buying a blank journal and filling it with poetry, ephemera, meditative thoughts, and realizations during my trip.
Meeting with a mentor.
Planning silent hikes to breathtaking locations
Eating only "slow" food, or food that is naturally cooked, without preservatives, added sugars, or any other ingredients that don't come directly from the earth.
Nourishing on a vegan, partially raw diet.
Meditating for 4-6 hours per day
Allowing unstructured time to do whatever my spirit asks for 4-6 hours per day
Going to bed within an hour of sunset.
Pulling an oracle card the day I leave, to focus my intentions
Vision Boarding and Treasure Mapping for my life (usually the week after my return, as a way to integrate)
I don't always do all of these things, but I find that engaging on these different levels helps me drop in more deeply to what my body needs and craves.
Past retreat locations have included:
Campgrounds and National Parks
AirBnB or VRBO house listings that inspire me
Sacred Earth Locations known for vibrational healing (Hawaii, Sedona, etc.)
The planning of your spiritual retreat is just as much a part of your meditation and nourishment, as the trip itself. Take time to plan the outer structure of your trip, answering: Where will I stay? How long will be gone? What is my intention? Can I allow myself to let go?
The best way to find the right retreat for yourself is to do a little research. Travel magazines, yoga magazines, and online travel directories for your city/place of interest often have listing for these types of things. You can look for listings to inspire what your personal retreat can become, for you!
DAILEY LITTLE is a healing practitioner, transformational life coach, ordained Priestess, and teacher who founded Healing Heart Reiki to help others navigate life with joy. She offers private sessions, and teaches classes in healing and mindset from a magical peaceful corner of the world in Northern California. For more info see: www.SantaRosaReiki.com