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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Discomfort Offers Insights—I Retreated From My Retreat

Retreat at home

If you have followed my posts, you know that I was excited to have a 3-day retreat in early January. Ever since my beloved retreat center in Montecito, CA was destroyed five years ago in a tragic mudslide that killed 23 people, I have been looking.

Ironically, I arrived at the new retreat center on the very day when—once again—Montecito was forced to evacuate because of the torrential rain and mud slides! With a prayer in my heart for the current situation in Montecito, I drove up to the retreat center.

Turns out I was the only one there. Groups don’t start arriving until the middle of January. Only one person was in the office and some housekeepers were on the property. No food would be served. Thankfully I had a tiny ice chest with some cheese, hardboiled eggs, and 2 pre-packaged salads.

Food was the least of my discomforts. The room was dark with little light. I could see neither sunrise nor sunset. It took the second day for me to find where I could walk to be in nature, to breathe fresh air, to say hello to a few dogs on leashes. The chairs and rock-hard pillow in my sleeping room made it hard for me to read and write with the journals I had brought. The silence was deafening. Not a bird. Not a human voice.

I left a day early with a headache that lasted for almost 3 days.

But it was exactly what I needed to begin this new year: a realization of what matters in time and space.

First: I require light: natural light and lamp light. I am an “in the light” person.

Second: Nature renews me. I need the space to be outside to renew.

Third: There’s no place like home.

The latter realization might be the most important. Instead of going away on retreat, my task for this year is to craft a retreat in my own surroundings. It means discipline from computer and phone. It means stifling the urge to clean and organize.

Have you created a retreat “at home”? What works for you? I’m always open to advice.

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