Winter Retreat at BIOM (2009)
It was dark and cold as we arrived at the Winter Solstice, and like those who have come before us, we lit up the night to celebrate the holidays and bolster our spirits for the beginning of Winter.
On this page ...
‘Twas the Season To Be Jolly — and Retreat
Unlike our ancestors we enjoy a nearly ‘24/7’ abundance (always-on electricity, clean water pumped into the house, food conveniently provided in nearby stores) that lets us overspend our energy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; to an extent that our health can feel overdrawn throughout the Winter.
‘Stepping Back’ makes room for something beneficial to come forward.
At BIOM we’ve learned to ‘thread-the-needle’ by enjoying a moderate level of holiday festivities, then taking a short, one- or two-day ‘retreat’ where we ‘step back’ and turn our attention inward to reconnect with what we value in our lives.
We find a short retreat to be a very practical way to refresh the clarity needed for making any necessary ‘adjustments’ for the new year ... and beyond ...
Winter is a natural time to retreat; the energy in the northern hemisphere is at maximum Yin — a time of dark, cold, stillness and quiet. And just as the bear hibernates, and the tree gathers its energy down in its roots in Winter, we too can get in sync with Winter’s energy (Yin) by ‘sinking’ into the deeper parts of ourselves that aren’t as easily accessible in the stirring days of Spring or fiery days of Summer.
Remember this: To ‘retreat’ doesn’t have to mean doing something ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious.’ Retreat to do something you want to do.
One foot in front of the other ... gaze gently downward ... looking at nothing in particular ...
During a Winter Retreat at BIOM we make it part of our plan to rest and meditate. Our meals are simple, and we’re flexible regarding how we schedule our time.
We focus on staying centered in the body — aware of how we feel — and present in our thoughts — not thinking about what we’ve done in the past or what we plan to do in the future. In other words: “Be Here Now.”
What Do You Want To Do At Your Winter Retreat?
What do you want to experience? Is it peace? Quiet? Inspiration? Art? Music? Figuring that out is the first step.
Once you have a sense of what you want the focus of your retreat to be:
- Gather together everything you’ll need to be self-sufficient during your retreat time.
- Make sure everything is ready.
One day retreat: like a power outage ... with the Power turned on.
Here is a general guide for preparing for a short Winter retreat.
- Plan your meals and buy your food prior to the time of your retreat. If you don’t want to cook, prepare as much as you can ahead of time.
- Notify anyone who may contact you that your phone will be off and you won’t be answering emails for that time. (You may also want to turn on the ‘out-of-office’ message for your email.)
- Gather together whatever you want to have on hand ahead of time.
- Writing and drawing materials (Keep in mind that it makes sense to choose things that are inspiring and that fit with the ‘theme’ of your retreat.)
- Prepare a flexible schedule for what you want to do so you have a structure to guide you if you get distracted.
Do you need help planning your personal retreat? Retreat consultations are available at BIOM. Call — (206) 842-6936 — or email to make an appointment.
What Is a Retreat
Perhaps something as simple as turning off the TV or computer for a day ... then seeing what happens with that time.
To help you get started take a look at our ‘flexible’ schedule.
(Note: Wherever you see Chi Kung, just substitute the type of exercise you enjoy and plan to do.)
- Wake up, and while in bed, do some focused breathing to establish the beginning of the retreat.
- Get out of bed and do some gentle stretching exercises.
- Practice Chi Kung
- Enjoy quiet time — read for a while then take a walk in Nature.
- Practice Chi Kung
- Rest a while
- Read or watch something inspiring.
- Chi Kung or other exercise
- Prepare and eat evening meal
- Watch a video, play music, listen to music, or read.
- Feel the effects of the day in your body and mind.