Many of us look forward to our weekend but what do we actually do when it arrives and does it revitalize us? Here’s how to turn that break into your own mini spiritual retreat.
This isn’t a time for goal setting, any sort of intentional processing of emotional stuff or working on yourself. It’s about chilling out, relaxing, creating a space in which you can experience just a little bit of peace in what can be for many of us a stressful life and nurturing yourself, body and soul.
1/Before the weekend starts, take a piece of paper and a box. On that piece of paper, write down everything that is bothering you or nagging away at the back of your mind. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. By writing it down you are making sure that it won’t be forgotten, and that means you can relax and give yourself a break from thinking about whatever it is it just for a couple of days. We can get the strange idea that worrying about something that needs sorting out is solving it and it really isn’t. When you’re done, fold that piece of paper up, put it in the box, and put the box somewhere safe and hidden. You’ve put it into safe storage, so you can afford not to let it follow you round over the next couple days.
2/Give yourself media detox. Just for this weekend, turn off the TV and radio, and leave the newspapers alone and stay off line. Many of us in the developed world are actually overloaded with information that pours at us from every direction. You can afford to take a couple of days out. What you can do is feed your soul with anything uplifting, be it curling up and reading a spiritual book. It’s all about being light and easy.
3/Try meditation, and if you can’t meditate, at least be mindful. If you’ve read any of my other articles on here, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the benefits that meditation can bring and thoroughly delighted to see that science is now giving it a full stamp of approval in terms of it bringing loads of measurable boosts to our psychological and even physical wellbeing. If you don’t already have a regular practice and can’t even bear the thought of sitting still and quieting your mind, however, you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is just about being present in every moment of your life to what is actually going on right now or to what you are doing right now. In one Zen story, a pupil asks his master what enlightenment is, and the master explains simply, ‘When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.’ Most of us shove food down whilst thinking of something else or push through when our bodies tell us they need resting. As much as possible, try and be in one place at any one time.
4/Forget time. Along that note, eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired. Many of the patterns that thread through our daily lives are designed around the many demands we have to fulfil, but if you can, you can throw out the rule book and follow what your body tells you it wants in any moment. If that means you take a nap at 2pm or eat your main meal around 4pm, go ahead.
5/Get out in nature. If you can, get to the sea or right into the country, and if you’re city bound find your way to a park. Even if the weather isn’t brilliant and the skies open, which can often happen in Britain over a bank holiday weekend, wrap up cosy and warm, take an umbrella and enjoy the feeling of rain on your face. Most spiritual practices emphasise the importance of connecting with your spirit through being in nature and I know for myself that deciding to leave London for the peace of the countryside is one of the most nurturing things I have done. You might have a magical moment just watching a breeze play in the leaves of a tree, or lose yourself in the bliss of birdsong.
6/You could use the time to clean and declutter your home for a feng shui style energy boost – and there are karmic bonus points if you end up with a pile of things you don’t want that someone else might love that you can take to your favourite charity shop. But don’t think of it as being your normal ‘housework’ routine. This is a spiritual cleanse, done with the same mindfulness that monks and nuns clean temples. Instead of your usual cleaning products, where appropriate use soft cloths and simple water with a few drops of essential oil in it – lavender for soothing and lemon for a zing. One of my favourite quick and easy spiritual energy house cleanse practices is simply to walk from room to room clapping my hands briskly in all of the corners. Or see Wiccan Wise Woman Sue C’s column if you want to do a full on cleanse.
7/Cleanse yourself, Shaman style, with a good head to toe smudging with a smudge stick and take a long, luxurious bath with Epsom salts and see any cares, woes or worries disappearing down the plug hole as the water drains out. Drink plenty of water and eat good, fresh, healthy foods.
8/If it’s possible and you think you can do it, give yourself the silent routine. Spend at least a day without speaking and without any background sound.
9/Connect. Write letters to people you care about. Real, proper letters on lovely paper. It’s very rare these days that a handwritten letter plops through anyone’s letter box and a message from your heart to someone you care about delivered in such a fashion might make their day.
If you can do just some of these things, you should feel refreshed and revitalised after just a couple of days. As for that box of bothers, it’s up to you whether you want to leave what you wrote in there for the universe to take care of, or whether you want to go back and look at what you wrote down. If you decide to revisit that list, you’ll probably find that you view it with a whole new perspective. Some things that you thought were huge will probably have shrunk a little, and there will be other things where you’ll suddenly see solutions that you couldn’t when your mind was cluttered.
However you choose to spend this weekend, I hope you have a wonderful time.