Learning to Retreat

A few years ago, TIME magazine published an article stating that distraction was the pre-eminent condition of our time. Not only are we busy, we are pulled in multiple directions constantly by distractions of all kinds. The antidote? Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about taking time to be still, to reflect, to meditate, to contemplate, to be quiet, and to think. Mindfulness is being encouraged by experts in the fields of sport, medicine, health and well being, and religion.

For people of faith, it is interesting to note that meditation has roots that go way back to Isaac.

Genesis 24:63. One evening as Isaac was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming … NLT

I am sure Isaac had plenty to do. He inherited great wealth from his father Abraham in the form of livestock and he had a large household to manage. Yet, he took time to get out of the house simply to meditate.

Jesus did the same.

Matthew 14:23. After Jesus dismissed the crowd, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.

By retreating regularly, Jesus was able to replenish himself from the demands of his work in helping people and to gain perspective for his life.

It is so easy to be driven by the clock, which is all about speed, and fail to look at the compass, which is about the direction we are going in.

Here are some retreat ideas:

  1. Begin each day with a few moments of stillness in order to prepare yourself for what is ahead.
  2. End each day with some time of reflection. Ask yourself some key questions. What went well? What didn’t? What did you learn? What energised you? What drained you? How could tomorrow be different?
  3. Make an appointment with yourself at the beginning of each week to have a Weekly Review. Take time to reflect on the previous week and prepare for the coming week.
  4. Take a half or full day each month to retreat.
  5. Have a quarterly review time (every 90 days).
  6. Take time to have an annual review. After all, experience isn’t the best teacher. Only experience that is reflected on becomes insight for positive change.

Let’s face it – retreating is not easy, especially for activistic types like myself. It’s a little like stopping to fill your car up with petrol on a long trip. While you do so, all of those trucks, caravans, and slow drivers that you have been meticulously passing are now passing you! How annoying. Yet if you don’t stop, you won’t make the distance.

Is it time for you to retreat?

P.S. This habit is one of five habits I share in my recently published book How to Avoid Burnout: Five Habits for Healthy LivingWhy not pick up a copy today.

P.S.S. To listen to a recent message summarising these five habits, check out the Discovery Church podcast of my message given there on Sunday morning 4th February.

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