Updated: Aug 26, 2018
We often hear that going to a retreat center is essential to developing a successful mindfulness practice. However, for some of us, it is logistically and/or financially impractical, or just something we have no interest in doing. So what can we do? How about a stay-at-home retreat. I recommend setting 2-5 days aside for yourself and your practice.
First, what are your goals? Next, it's important to plan out the retreat: write out a schedule for yourself. What are you going to do and when? What are you going to eat and do you know where you are going to go or do you have the ingredients in your house? Are you going to include anyone else in your retreat? When and where? Are you going to go anywhere (I love including the zoo, the park and restaurants).
For my first stay-at-home-retreat, I started the day with a few meditations. The Petting Petitation with Pippi, basically a labeling breathing meditation focusing on petting Pippi, my Schipperke. Next, was the self compassion Petitation, Kristen Neff’s self compassion meditation with Pippi showing her unconditional love despite my failures in working on a grant the way I wanted to. I followed with Dianna Winston’s equanimity practice from the UCLA Hammer Podcasts and finally, Sharon Salzberg’s self-love meditation. It took about an hour. I felt great afterwards…very mellow and ready to start the day.
Next. was my staple breakfast of spanakopita from Safeway. It’s the best spanakopita I’ve found, crispy with more spinach than cheese. I paid particular attention to the blend of cheese and spinach and the slightly sour taste of the spinach. I also focused on the the beautiful color of the spinach and the crispy Philo dough. and thought about where it came from and who might have played a role in the making of this delicious food.
Chores intervened...I had to pick up my medications from Kaiser's pharmacy...never fun but important. My medications make my life more bearable. I feel a lot of gratitude that we found the right cocktail and that my insurance covers it. This time they told me one medication would cost $3000. Thankfully, I had done some meditating so I didn't stamp my feet and shout but I had to wait patiently while they worked out their errors.
I took this time to listen to part of the Dali Lama’s Cat, the third book in the series-I'll be reviewing them in a future post. The Dali Lama's cat was talking about appreciating music and we were going to a concert that night. Then she was talking about how things don’t always go the way you want them to--how appropriate. Half hour later, they had it worked out and I was on my way.
I met my meditation buddy for lunch. She and I were doing an online meditation course together, so we focused on synchronized movement and de-cluttering our lives. It was helpful to share with her. We went for Pho which I didn’t know had MSG in it, I'm allergic, so I immediately got a headache. Dianna Winston's pain meditation paying attention to my hand, then the headache, then my hand helped It went away after a while, with the help of some advil.
Home again and more guided meditation, this time I did the Gratitude Petitation (a gratitude meditation starting off focusing on Pippi) and a breathing meditation for about a half hour.
Pippi and I went for a long walk, we covered almost three miles. I focused on Pippi, sharing her joy as she pranced along. We noticed the beautiful Sacramento flowers and cute Victorian houses. I live downtown and we walked to midtown. I had a bad back for about 8 months this past year so I am EXTREMELY grateful to walk without pain and to be the kind of mom I want to be for Pippi. She loves walking.
Next was water aerobics at the gym. The water felt great and I could feel my muscles getting stronger This particular teacher does a lot of interval training so it was exhausting, but in a good way.
When I arrived home it was time to get ready for dinner and the concert. We had box seats for the San Francisco Symphony in Davis. We went to Plutos for dinner where I had a huge salad with 7 toppings. The colors were beautiful and the flavors were amazing. I feel extremely grateful to live in Sacramento with its awesome fresh fruits and veggies.
The concert was interesting. The first piece was loud and modern and other than the inspiring percussion sections (I just started playing drums last year) kind of obnoxious. I had to work hard to pay attention to the percussion but since we were in box seats I could see everything they were doing.
Then they had a Brahms piece. After that was a Haydn piano concerto. I didn’t like the first two movements but was able to appreciate the timpani, the gorgeous French horns and the singing oboes. The last movement was beautiful so the concert ended on a fantastic note.
I am very grateful that my partner and I both love attending classical music concerts and that there is so much classical music between Sacramento and Davis.
I’m really enjoying my stay-at-home-retreats…They're making me pay more attention to my mindfulness and I think they're broadening and deepening my mindfulness practice.