I slowly unpacked my essentials:
Stack of books√
White satin slippers√
Each winter I take a solo retreat for reflection. While living alone gives me ample opportunity for solitude and sitting on my sofa, I know myself. Without a boundary of distance and drive time, my mind quickly reverts to my To Do list telling me I still have not hung that picture, organized those photos, or cleaned beneath my bed. Any call from a friend to see a good film easily becomes an excuse for not allowing myself time to ponder.
I try to pack some good questions in my bag, too.
What are my intentions?
What questions will I ask myself?
What do I want to leave with?
I had chosen a simple room at the lodge of a state park. The certainty of quiet coupled with a view of the sky and the Platte River was perfect. Like most years, I was going to look at something that I had been thinking about for a long time.
Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Being prone to overthinking, I can have thoughts that swirl round and round, bumping into one another, repeating themselves, and creating chaos. My thinking can confound me, causing confusion rather than clarity. Time away helps me focus on observing my thoughts more than simply repeating them in my head.
My first morning brought a view from my room of a fire orange sunrise. I had a cup of tea. I lit my small candle. I lit some incense, pausing for a moment to make sure I would not set off the smoke alarm. I meditated. Then yoga. Next up, journaling. I had a second cup of tea.
Three hours had passed without my checking the time. “Wouldn’t it be lovely to start every day like this?” I think to my centered-for-a-millisecond self. I catch my mind going traveling from quiet to thinking. I bring myself back from the thought of having a daily 4 a.m. wake up alarm to the peace in my body and my breath.
It was sunny and without wind—a perfect day for an unhurried winter walk along the woods. I paused at the burial site for prehistoric Native Americans who once farmed, hunted, and buried the bones of their dead. I sense my tennis shoes are not worthy of the sacredness of the ground on which I stand. I breathe.
By my second day the sky was gray. No sunrise to see. No blue above. Too cold for a walk. I slid open the glass door leading to a small patio. Away from the bustling city intersection where I live, I take in the soft browns of the season’s landscape that comfort me like a cup of hot chocolate. I look up. A flock of geese flew overhead.
I forgot about thinking of the answers to my questions about my life. About 4 a.m. alarms. My answers were there all along. All I needed to do was notice.
How might you create time in your life for reflection?
Have you been overthinking lately?
How could you notice your breathing or the beauty in your life more?