This is a guest article by: Giang Cao Ho My, M.A., Founder at Mind Flower
Ever felt lonely one weekend? When the whole world just left you. No friend, no partner, no kid, no family showing up? A home meditation retreat would fill your day with incredible happiness. See my tips to make one.
Maybe you’ve never thought of a meditation retreat. But it’s such a great thing to experience. You’ll live a completely different rhythm, recharge your energy, be back to yourself, and heal. Sometimes, you are tempted, but it’s not possible to travel. I got it, Coronavirus time is an example. But do you know that it’s totally possible to experience the same thing… at home? You just need a mental “go” to do it! Here we go, the best tips to make a home meditation retreat!
A home meditation retreat is simple but can be difficult
If you’ve ever joined a meditation retreat, you’ll be surprised how easy it looks. The daily agenda is very simple. You don’t need much. Set a time to wake up, a mindful breakfast in silence, meditation time, walking meditation, Dharma talk, mindful domestic chores (Samu), free time, evening meditation, sleep… Why do we need to go to a retreat to make it happen?
Well, most of us need to go for a retreat, because of the following simple reason: We can’t allow it mentally. This weekend, I had a free day where I was alone. I had plenty of time in front of me. But the decision to make this day a retreat, believe me, was a big mental commitment. We usually let ourselves distracted by daily activities (phones, computers, TV…). We can’t make our breakfast mindful enough. Instead, we start rushing to make our coffee. Then we scan our Facebook page while eating our cereals!
The incredible benefits of a home meditation retreat
If you can make it, home meditation is an unforgettable experience. First, it cures your loneliness. If you ever feel lonely one Sunday, when the whole world just left you. No friend appearing, your partner is away, no kids, no family? A home meditation retreat fills your day with incredible happiness. No such feeling of nothing to do, or being bored. You’ll feel strong & connected.
A home meditation retreat is also something that costs you almost nothing. No need to travel, to set a time, to take leave… All you need is a day or half-day where you can be alone. Plenty of occasions like this, right?
It’s also a great occasion to practice your mindful lifestyle, reach your creative thoughts, feel more confident and relaxed.
How to do a home meditation retreat
Ready to make your dream home meditation retreat a reality? Here is how you can do it.
Follow a schedule
It’s very important to have a schedule and stick to it. Firstly by waking up deliberately early. It helps you start your day on an intentional note. And you can continue to follow the retreat schedule throughout the day.
Here is a schedule you can follow for a-day retreat. Adapt it for a half-day one if the whole day seems too much for the first retreat.
Time required: 6:15 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
6:15—6:45: Wake up, shower, get ready mindfully.
6:45—7:30: Morning sitting meditation
8:30—9:15: Mindful exercise/ Yin Yoga
9:15 – 10:00: Walking meditation outdoors (if weather is bad, drink a tea and read a book)
10:00 – 11:30: Dharma Talk – Watch online teaching – Thich Nhat Hanh
11:30—12:30: Mindful cleaning and chores – cook a simple mindful vegetarian meal
12:30 – 13:15: Mindful eating and cleaning dishes
13:15 – 14:00: Walking meditation (outdoors, if possible).
14:00 – 16:00: Free time (reading book, drinking tea, sunbath, yoga)
16:00 – 17:00: Mindful preparation of a vegetarian meal
17:00 – 18:00: Mindful eating and cleaning dishes
18:00 – 19:00: Relax time (read a book, drink a tea)
19:00 – 20:00: Guided meditation (Tara Brach has some great ones that are around 30 minutes long.
End of the retreat
Prepare a retreat place and ambiance
Preparing a retreat place is important. It creates a serene and relaxing ambiance for your retreat. While it can be small, the place should be refined, pure, empty of furniture as much as you can.
When you have time, don’t hesitate to read about Fengshui art, to organize a house of harmony and serenity. Above, a photo of my meditation corner. You’ll see that it’s small and rather simple. Sometimes a meditation corner is enough for your day retreat.
Some “plus” for a more serene and relaxing atmosphere:
Light candles in a meditation corner
Diffuse some essential oils. My favorite is Tea Tree, try it out. You might like better a candle warmer than a diffuser because it is more zen. But be careful, when you choose an essential oil candle warmer, it must be high enough in order to avoid the heat destroying the essential oil.
Prepare mindfully healthy foods for your retreat
Mindful cooking and eating make an important part of any meditation retreat. One day in Vietnam, I saw my sister cooking mindfully a meal for me and my children. Unconsciously, but profoundly, I was changed. Later on, I got to know Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Art of Mindful Living”. My life has never been the same.
If you ever participated in a zazen retreat, you might have experienced eating in a bowl as a Japanese monk. When you eat soup, the spoon is mindfully brought facing your face and your mouth. You’re aware that this food is given to us by the whole universe. The sun, water, the Earth, living beings, all contributed to the soup in front of you. You don’t eat. You receive. When you can receive the food mindfully this way, you will feel profound joy. Try this in your home retreat.
Will you think about it?
If you can really stick to it, a home meditation can be an unforgettable experience. You’ll feel connected with yourself. It’s a great occasion to practice your mindful lifestyle & feel stronger from the inside. Be sure you can have a quiet time alone. Prepare a good retreat place. Disconnect yourself from your phone and other devices. Then stick to the schedule and be mindful in every action, either it’s cooking, cleaning, or walking. At the end of the day, you may just feel profound joy and happiness, alone! Try it one day?
Author Bio: Giang Cao Ho My, M.A., Founder at Mind Flower
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Giang Cao Ho My is a Yogi, Meditation practitioner, and Digital Entrepreneur. M.A. holder from Geneva University, after 15 years working in international organizations, NGOs, and industries in a managerial role, she is now devoting herself to helping others find a life of joy and meaning.