Summer has picked up steamy heat here so outside activities are restricted to early mornings and late evenings. Dan and I just finished teaching a week-long retreat so this week is about rest and recovery. The week following a retreat is always a bit challenging whether I am teaching or attending so I thought I might share some things I have learned over the years which seem to help.
The first and probably most important aid is to free up my calendar as much as possible. When I was working full time this was not completely possible. I know how precious every vacation day is but one extra day can really be helpful. Once at work I tried to avoid booking major meetings or difficult decisions. It’s a good time to catch up on simple routine things. The longer the retreat, the more time of transition seems to be required. Now that I am retired, I just keep the week following retreat unscheduled.
One habit I picked up was to spend some time reviewing the notes I took during retreat teachings. I would highlight things that seemed important and then make a list of key points I wanted to remember in the back of the notebook. I often used return plane travel time to do this. I have used these notebooks and these key points to remind myself of the experiences which arose and the areas I wanted to bring forward into my daily practice. I still return to them at times today. Dan and I take time to review the retreat and make notes on any changes we feel would be helpful.
I have always found the transition from many hours a day of practice back to one hour a day a bit difficult energetically, so I usually keep increased practice time in my daily schedule. I often add the extra time in at night. This works because I seem not drawn to the noise and stimulation of TV. The extra practice time also helps to keep me awake so that the energy I am carrying does not move into reactivity either at home or work. Many years ago I struck an agreement with my husband for the week following retreats. I asked that he watch TV with his headphones so the house would hold more silence. Now this won’t work with children of course, but whatever you can do to create silence and space will be helpful.
One final point, the increased energy from the retreat will remain for a period of time. Sometimes it lasts just a few weeks, at other times a few months. While I have that boost I work on stabilizing the insights from the retreat and I try to use it in my daily life to keep moving into awareness. I use the prayer books from the retreat to keep reminding me of my intentions and I use movement work to keep the energy balanced.
Wishing you peace,