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Annual Retreat: A Great Habit

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Karl W. Palachuk
December 4, 2009

This Friday (today) I wander off to a retreat center for my annual silent retreat. This will be my ninth year.

If you’ve read Relax Focus Succeed, or many of my newsletters, than you know I’m a big fan of quiet time, prayer, and meditation. Sometimes our lives become just so “busy” that we forget to stop and take stock of our lives. My annual retreat gives me time to do that.

On one hand, the timing is terrible. First weekend in December? Yikes. Beginning of Christmas season. Lost a weekend to Thanksgiving. Christmas and end of year are rushing toward me like a freight train.

On the other hand, when is a good time?

Retreating from the busy-ness of the season is a great habit. And one I’m proud to be developing. Some say you need 37 repetitions to form a new habit. Some say 40 or 42. Whatever it is, this is only my ninth in a row. So I can’t really call it a habit yet. 🙂

Sometimes they call this a three-day retreat, but it’s really two full days. I arrive Friday afternoon and leave Sunday afternoon.

The most common question I get is: How can you be silent for two days? My daughter once told me “You have to talk to stay alive.” Of course she was fourteen at the time and it may have been true for her. I would reply that you need to stop talking to bring meaning to your life.

To get the most out of my two days, I try to increase meditation in the weeks leading up to the retreat. This helps me get in the mood and set my attitude to be open to a higher level of self-analysis.

I don’t really go into the weekend with an “agenda” so much as an openness to self examination. The retreat leaders provide a theme and some guidance. But they also encourage folks to wander off, take a walk, take a nap, and spend time in contemplation.

I have faced a number of personal challenges recently and the retreat is coming at a perfect time for me this year.

If you haven’t been on a retreat of any kind, I highly recommend it. Just do an Internet search for “Retreat” and your city. You’ll be amazed at how many retreat centers are scattered all over the place. Some are religious. Some are just relaxing. Start with the one most appealing to you.

My retreat is religious in nature, although the greatest benefits come from my quiet time during the weekend and not from the actual theme. Early on (retreats one, two, three) the guidance and themes mattered a lot more. But when you bring your own intentions of openness to the retreat there is less need for “starter” activities.

There are no promises that I’ll be a better person on Monday. But I look forward to a quiet weekend unplugged from the frenzy.


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