Going on an organised retreat can be expensive and involve travel. To save both cash and time you can set up a retreat for yourself – and maybe a friend or two – and enjoy a relaxed time of self-nurturing without leaving home.

Retreat can mean a lot of different things. What type appeals to you? A total removal from day-to-day life into silence and solitude? An indulgent and pampering break? A chance to focus on your favourite pastime?

Think about what you hope to gain from your retreat, and how you’d like to feel when it’s over, then start planning.

Let’s talk about how to relax and relieve stress with your very own home retreat.

Where, When and Who?

For all retreats, find a place where you can have undisturbed time and space. If you want to have the retreat at home and you live with others, study their schedules – is there a time when everyone is likely to be out, or away from home for a while?

If that’s not possible, do you have a friend who could lend you some space? Or could you even hire a hotel room or borrow a friend’s cabin or caravan to get away from it all?

A retreat can be any length, from a couple of hours to a week or more. Realistically, a half-day or day of dedicated downtime is a good way to start with your first retreat. If you enjoy it, run another than extends across a weekend.

As for who to involve, the simplest option is to take a retreat by yourself and get a fabulous chance to rest, relax and reflect on life in peace and tranquillity. That said, a retreat for two or more can also be hugely rewarding. Talk the idea over with a few like-minded friends and make sure you’re all looking to achieve the same thing. Then get the diaries out to fix a day!

Preparing Your Retreat

Pre-planning makes all the difference to the success of your retreat, and this is true even if you’re starting with just a couple of hours on your own. Your experience will be more satisfying if it’s well-organised so that you can move easily through the time without having to stop and think about what’s next.

Devise a simple timetable and keep it where you can consult it easily during the retreat. Decide which spaces you’ll use. Look out for warm blankets or throws to wrap yourself in, comfy floor cushions, scented candles – whatever you need.

Get the fire laid and ready to light. Organise food and drink and supplies such as journaling materials, pens, paper, crayons, paints. Source any videos or audios you want to use.

It goes without saying – doesn’t it? – that this is time to turn off the phone, and put computers and other electronic distractions away, and not just switched to silent.

A Simple Meditation Retreat

Are you longing for peace and quiet, a chance to reflect and contemplate? Try a silent retreat, based around meditation sessions.

I laid on a retreat morning for my meditation group. We began with tea and talked through the day’s programme, then the four of us moved into silence. We had each brought along one or two objects – a delicate ceramic bowl, a piece of weaving, a collection of stones and shells – and used these to set up four little meditation spaces in separate corners of the house and garden. We meditated alone for 10 minutes in front of each group of objects, moving on each time a bell was sounded (I acted as timekeeper).

We brought our own lunches and ate together in companionable silence, then enjoyed a walking meditation outdoors for 30 minutes, before ending our silence over tea and setting out for home, feeling calm and relaxed.

A DIY Spa Retreat

Do you want to spend relaxed time nurturing yourself with friends? You could give each other manicures or massages, or even invite a local beauty practitioner in to give each of you a treatment. The cost of this would be a lot less than going to a spa centre for the day.

Prepare some light food, perhaps asking people to bring a dish to fit with a planned menu. Get into your loose and comfy clothing, relax and set up a quiet area for snoozing.

You could follow an online yoga class, or do a journaling or meditation exercise together. Create a day that fits with your interests and use it treat yourselves and enjoy each other’s company, away from the distractions of everyday life.

An Activity Retreat

Are you longing for full immersion in a much-loved hobby? Whether you love writing, painting, sculpting or any other activity, you can make your passion the focus of a retreat.

Activities can be done alone or with others. Think about your aims at the start. Do you all want to come away with the draft of a first chapter, or a few poems? Complete a painting or collage? Or is this play time, and a chance to explore some different ideas? Plan the day to fit in with your desires.

Take Time to Review

Whatever kind of retreat you choose, include a transition time at the end, to come back gently to the “real” world. Review how the retreat has gone, notice how you’re feeling, and then, start looking forward your next one!

Do you have a special place in your home that you go to relax and relieve stress? Have you built your very own home retreat? Please share your thoughts and experiences with the community.

Elizabeth MartynElizabeth Martyn is a writer and personal coach. She lives in the UK and blogs at Beyond 60. Here she intrepidly explores this unexpectedly extraordinary time of life, one of fresh insights, new opportunities, and exciting – and occasionally unnerving – freedoms.

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