A spiritual retreat was a literal retreat from society where you left everything behind and connected with the divine. The physical displacement from the every day was an early version of a mindhack to remind someone they are away from all distractions.
I spent a few summers at a monastery, where I was treated to some of the best cheese I’ve ever tasted… and the beauty of a monastic lifestyle. There was something different about being there and it was evident the moment you stepped foot on the property. All my stress an anxieties instantly vanished. Although it was tempting to stay, I knew it wasn’t my calling.
While there, time moved differently. Nothing dragged, nor did it ever feel like one was in a hurry. It was the perfect amount of work, rest, sleep and prayer in a day, which allowed you to regain focus on what really matters in your own life.
The youngest a monk has died at this place was 95.
As we venture forth into the cusp of a new world, something beyond the paradigm shift of the Gutenberg printing press, the idea of retreat takes on a whole new meaning.
We no longer need to physically leave our daily lives to enter into a retreat where we can focus on what matters.
Right now, contact with people is ubiquitous and constant. Try going for a day without electronically contacting another person – it seems like an impossible task.
We’re busier than ever and communicating more than humanity could have ever imagined. In this new age, we still need to learn how to take a step back and retreat to regroup.
All it takes is a willingness to physically part from our digital selves and spend a day in quiet reflection. It will feel alien to many the first time, almost threatening, but eventually it will be met with anticipation.
Just as you cannot spend your entire life in retreat (at some point you’ll have to take action), it would be difficult to spend every day cutoff from the stream of chatter. However, you can find purposeful ways to use it… one that coincides with your own life in what matters.
The need for retreat will teach us how to create a monastery in our own hearts.