How to Integrate Post-Retreat
Congratulations on completing your silent retreat!
Heading back home can sometimes feels like a huge relief and sometimes feel terrifying — how will I preserve all this spacious awareness that I’ve been cultivating within the support of the community and the container? Often times, both sentiments are present at the same time.
Here are some tips on integrating back into the speaking world.
Don’t Come Back.
Adyashanti recommends, “Don’t come back from your retreat! You’re not the same as you were before. Don’t try to be.” Continue to attune to whatever it was that you oriented toward during the retreat. This might be your intention word that you started with, it might be something different. Whatever it was: truth, peace, freedom, vulnerability — if you maintain that concept at the forefront of your consciousness as you return to your everyday life, it will carry you forward. It could transform you completely.
- Write that word on post-it notes and put them on your mirror and in your wallet and on the dashboard of your car.
- Create your own mantra out of the intentions as you entered and exiting the retreat. Or pick any two words that uplift your energy, images you want to orient your life toward, and assign each to a phase of breath. You can practice mantra work sitting on the cushion, while driving, while shopping, etc. For example: “I inhale peace, I exhale vulnerability.” or “Listening on the inbreath, kindness on the outbreath.”
Be gentle with yourself. Move slowly. Stop and smell the grass and touch the trees as you walk to the subway.
Remember that PRACTICE is the hub at the center of the Way of the Artmonk. At the heart of practice is a giant forgiveness. When you stray, being yourself back. Practice is a process of bringing yourself back. You’ll stray from the breath, from your sitting practice, from your creative practice in large and small ways all the time. Practice returning. Every time you retreat, celebrate! One step at a time. One breath at a time. Practice patience.
Every little bit counts.
Sitting 5 minutes a day can have a vast impact. Don’t be overly ambitious about creating a new set of practices. Find a goal that feels really manageable and you can overdeliver to yourself when you want. Artmonk Derek Wright has a deep commitment to himself to play his oud for 5-minutes every day. Sometimes he plays for hours. Other days he falls into bed at night, realized he didn’t play at all, rolls out of bed, plays for exactly 5 minutes, and falls back into bed. This kind of commitment can shape your life.
As you re-enter your life you are presented with an opportunity to see the places in your life where you’ve been on autopilot. This is a change to bring yourself kindness and compassion. You may want to make changes.
How To Be Happy by the Dalai Lama
It was presented on the Permaculture Podcast that someone asked the Dalai Lama how to attain happiness. Here’s what he recommended:
- Make a list of things you do that you feel great about.
- Make a list of things you do that you don’t feel great about.
- Make a list of things you don’t do that you wish you did.
- Pick ONE item from one of the latter two lists. Only one item. Incorporate that change into your life. Practice it for 40 days. If, at the end of the 40 days, it feels completely easy, pick a new item from one of the latter two lists. Do not go on to the next item until the first one is fully incorporated into your life.
- You can continue to edit your lists. Continue to move at a sustainable pace.
Choose your relationship with the digital world.
“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as users: illegal drugs and software. ” — Edward Tufte
The digital world is part of our lives. If you have unplugged, you are presented with an opportunity to make a conscious choice about how you want to interact with technology. Create some systems for yourself. Examples:
- I will not check my email before my sitting practice / movement practice / breakfast / I tell my kids I love them each morning.
- I will not look at screens after dinner / after sundown / after X o’clock. (Betsy started doing this one and it transformed the quality of her sleep!)
- I will stop scrolling down after I notice my first moment of slipping from really enjoying what I’m scrolling through.
- I will bless each email I write, inhaling peace and exhaling peace as I click send.
Create a support system for yourself.
- Search for a local sitting/writing/drawing/movement group.
- Ask a friend to meet you online for “skypitation” 5 days a week or once a week.
- Join John F. Simon, Jr. (author of Drawing Your Own Path: 33 Exercises at the Crossroads of Art and Meditation) for his
- online silent meditation group. 30 minutes of silent meditation.
Fridays at 11:30 AM EDT.
- online silent meditation group. 30 minutes of silent meditation.
Sign up for notifications at the Drawing Your Own Path Google+ group or Facebook group or Instagram feed.
- “Drawing Bee” online drawing group. 60 minutes of drawing.
9pm EST every Tuesday night.
http://iclock.com/draw/ Everyone draws together. John may give a prompt which you may follow or draw what you wish. You can show your work or keep it private. They use the free online conferencing software Zoom.
- Download a mindfulness bell app for your phone or computer. Bells go off at random times or intervals that you choose. You can use these as reminders to connect with your breath, your body, your mantra or intention.
- Plan your next retreat. Knowing when you will immerse yourself in the practice can sooth the anxiety of losing the practice. To know exactly when the next retreats are set at the Art Monastery, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook.
Read books that inspire you.
Here’s a list of books that the core team Artmonks identify as lifechangers and deep inspiration for us:
- The Awakening Body, Reginald Ray
- True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
- Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body, Reginald Ray
- Body of Infinite Simplicity: A Guide for Homeless Meditation Practitioners, Kiley Jon Clark (inspired poetry)
- When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron
- The Other Way to Listen, Byrd Bailor & Peter Parnall (illustrated children’s book)
- Practice of the Wild, Gary Snyder (collection of essays)
- Drawing Your Own Path: 33 Practices at the Crossroads of Art and Meditation, John F. Simon, Jr.
- The Artist’s Way: The Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron (12-week self-guided course)
- The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power Of Radical Self-Love, Sonya Renee Taylor
- The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist