It’s not necessary to go to a retreat center in the mountains if you want a few days of silence. You can do that at home and save yourself some money. Maybe you don’t have the time or money to travel. You can do just as well on your own in your casita. During the pandemic and my spiritual direction training I did my silent retreats at home and I loved them. If you are off this week because of Holy Week or Spring Break, take advantage to find some quiet time to feed your spirit.
Take a weekend and try these ideas to enjoy a personal silent retreat at home:
- Clear your schedule. You can’t have people bothering you if you’re going to take a silent retreat. Let everyone know you won’t be available for a day or two. Think about everyone that might need to communicate with you and inform them. Reschedule any appointments for another time. ****
- Tell your family/roommates. If you have roommates or family, ensure they know you are doing this retreat and to respect your space and silence. If you handle meals, make sure you leave food prepped to instruct them to eat out or order in. You may also ask them to take some time away from home in order for you to create space for this. Let them know this is one weekend out of 52.
- Take care of any business before your silent retreat. Whether you need to go shopping, or make phone calls, do it before your retreat. Either get it done, or plan to do it another time. Think about your menu and get the necessary groceries. ****
- Unplug. Can a silent retreat include TV and the internet? It’s up to you but consider eliminating all electronic devices and distractions. The point is to spend some quality time with yourself. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by going without your normal distractions for a few days. ****
- Be patient. If you’re not used to being a solas and quiet, it can be quite daunting. Just allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and relax. The end will come soon enough.
- Decide what you’re going to do. What activities do you consider to be acceptable? Are you going to get journal? Read? Meditate? Draw? Write? Plant a garden? Enjoy nature? Walk? Heal from your past? Consider how you want to spend your time.
- Create a schedule. Avoid the temptation to just play it by ear. Have a set of activities planned and allow yourself to choose from them. When one becomes too boring, stick with it for a while before moving to another activity. ****
- Make mindfulness a priority. Avoid allowing yourself to just sit around and ruminate. Have defined tasks and keep your attention on those tasks. If you are eating, eat mindfully enjoying every bite and smell. Be present to everything that you do.
- Use a journal. Make the most of your retreat by capturing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Don’t let those great insights go to waste. Ensure that you record them for future reference. ****
- Consider getting out of your casita. You don’t have to have your silent retreat at home. Staying home is great, but there are other alternatives. Consider going camping or renting a cabin. Even a hotel room can be an option. Better yet, find a retreat center and ask if you can come and do a private or silent retreat. And you can also take time during your retreat at home to go for a walk in nature. .
Silent retreats are a great way to train yourself to be mindful, present, and to give your body a well-deserved rest. A silent retreat is necessary from time to time. We could all use a break. Give yourself this gift. It will only take a few days and you’ll emerge as good as new!
Dr. Patty Jiménez is the Founder of Recetas. She obtained 2 Masters in Theology and Ministry and a Doctorate in Ministry specializing in Latinx theology and ministry. She has over 27 years experience in Catholic Ministry and is a spiritual director and training as a wellness coach.