Food for the Heart

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”

-St. Francis of Assisi

A retreat is typically defined as withdrawing away from enemy forces that are overpowering or more generally as an act of moving away from something difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable. From a spiritual perspective, a retreat is further defined as a time away for reflection, prayer, and meditation. In all forms, taking a retreat involves an intentional act of moving back or withdrawing to reflect, reconnect, and sometimes heal.

Have you ever been on a retreat or taken time away from others? What do you recall about this experience? What comes to mind when you think of taking a retreat now? What would you imagine an ideal retreat might look like? How would you imagine feeling afterwards?

Stepping outside of our busy daily routine and our ordinary identities to rest can help us to restore a deeper connection to ourselves and the present moment. Taking a retreat is a useful way to think about stepping outside of our experience. The Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Chah, called such moments, “food for the heart.”

Regular retreats lasting several days can be incredibly helpful, but not always practical. Nevertheless, we can incorporate the concept of a retreat into our daily lives in small ways. Taking five minutes to do nothing but sit or reflect, pray, or meditate during our day is a small retreat that can allow space for our heart to be fed.

Consider designing your own five-minute daily retreat. What would you like to experience? Would you prefer to sit quietly and notice the sights and sounds around you or reflect using practices such as gratitude or loving kindness? Perhaps you might use a five-minute retreat to pray or read and reflect on a meaningful scripture or text? Perhaps you might benefit most from the structure of a guided meditation or in recalling a pleasant memory or place. If sitting quietly is difficult, you could try a more active retreat such as a brief walk under the trees outside of work or around your neighborhood.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

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Published by tlindquistpsyd

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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