There may be times in your life where you experience a deep need to retreat. Perhaps stress is high. You’ve got work and family responsibilities that are barely giving you time to breathe. You’ve got projects in your mind that you want to fulfill and you’ve been meaning to go through your old business receipts for next month’s tax returns. But underneath this, perhaps there’s a deeper need to breathe, relax, and retreat into your yourself.
Finding spiritual retreat doesn’t have to mean flying to Bali and participating in a week-long meditation retreat, you can retreat simply by going inward. You can retreat into the great darkness of yourself. Although it might seem difficult at first, especially if you’re attention has been directed outwards for much of the time, retreating inward is the best spiritual retreat there is.
You can withdraw inward anytime; however, morning time is often best. Your mind is soft, supple, and sensitive. It hasn’t yet hardened like the firm details in your life. Instead, in the morning, your mind can still access your dreaming mind, where all things are possible. In the morning, you can still access the realm that exists beyond the conditioned thought patterns and beliefs. You can touch the landscape of your heart and its images.
Also, you can go on an inner spiritual retreat at regular times, making it a practice that nourishes you on a regular basis. Experiencing the benefits of this kind of spiritual retreat is most possible when you go inward at the same time every day. For instance, if you decide to go inward at 6am every morning and you develop a regular practice of doing so, you may find that even when you prepare for your 6am spiritual retreat, you’re inner landscape is ready for you. You may find that there’s no resistance to going inward because you’ve been blazing the trail inward again and again each morning.
In this way, you are creating your own spiritual retreat, which perhaps is the best kind of retreat there is. There is no doctrine to follow, no scripture to read, no dogma to buy into. Instead, your own inner scripture reveals itself each time you descend.
Now, you’re probably wondering what to do when you go inward. Well, there are two primary ways to access the power of the inner landscape. The first is to meditate. This is the simple practice of staying focused on one point and training your mind to return to that point again and again. The second powerful way to access the power of the inner world is to be creative. You see, as you continue to go inward, you may find that there is a guiding force, a small soft inner voice to pay attention to. It can be accessed through the creative process which invites your ability to listen deeply.
For instance, it is usually the artist, the poet, or the visionary that rekindles the lost, soft voice and makes it their own. This is undoubtedly true for the famous cinematographer, Ingmar Bergman, who described the creative process well.
“It is a mental state,” he said, “abounding in fertile associations and images. Most of all, it is a brightly colored thread sticking out of the dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge.”
The state of mind that Bergman describes is like opening the door to the heart and turning up the volume on that soft, inner voice. It’s none other than opening the inner door to resources you never knew were there.
You don’t need to go to Bali to experience spiritual retreat. If you want to get away from the world for awhile, go inward. There you’ll find the kind of spiritual nourishment you’re looking for.
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