This last weekend I went with a couple of my girlfriends to one of my favorite retreat houses in Santa Barbara: La Casa de Maria.
The accommodations aren’t plush, but they are comfortable. The food isn’t lavish, but it is fresh and wonderful.
They have marvelous massage therapists who are most adept at removing the knots that life seems to put into my body.
The Peaceful Magic of the Labyrinth
The grounds are beautiful and peaceful, including a peace garden and a labyrinth. I LOVE labyrinths.
One dictionary definition states: “In classical mythology, a labyrinth was a vast maze on the island of Crete. The great inventor Daedalus designed it, and the king of Crete kept the Minotaur in it. Very few people ever escaped from that labyrinth.”
They have a reputation as being a confusing and easy to get lost in.
However, my favorite spiritual labyrinths are circular and have a meandering path to the center, that if you just follow it, gives you an opportunity to ponder the issues of your life.
At the center of the circle you have the opportunity to pause for a moment and reflect before reversing directions and going out. This labyrinth had a beautiful heart filled with tokens of the visitors journey.
Inevitably, by the time I emerge from the labyrinth, I have come to a solution for whatever issue or problem I took in with me and my mind is at ease.
This retreat was a spiritual retreat led by a Catholic nun. I know, me going to a retreat led by a Catholic nun. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years, alternating with a retreat led by a Jesuit priest.
It works. When I leave the grounds on Sunday afternoon, I feel relaxed, refreshed and back in touch with what is important.
I am once again able to address the items that are on my plate.
It seems as if my compassion and empathy have been replenished and my patience and tolerance has found new depths.
In addition, the clarity of purpose that emerges is startling.
That clarity carries over into my relationships with my husband, my family and friends, in addition to the purpose I bring into my work.
We inevitably say we are too busy to unplug. To “retreat” from the everyday routines and demands.
Yet, it is that very retreat that enlarges our capacity to more effortlessly deal with that stressful life that we have live.
What’s on Your Calendar?
When I was working in the Corporate world, I always had a vacation or retreat, a special holiday, some special reward on the horizon and committed on the calendar.
Being able to look forward to a special treat was a contributing factor in surviving all those years in a high stress job.
Let me ask you: what do you have on your calendar to look forward to?
It doesn’t need to be a lavish vacation or getaway. I does need to be scheduled, a commitment to spend time away from the everyday.
Maybe it is a car trip across country, to see a National Park with the beauty that you’ve only seen in pictures.
Or a long weekend at the shore, basking in the relaxing sound of the waves on the beautiful beach.
Maybe it is a train trip to someplace special, like the trip from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Where in addition beauty you get entertained on the train. (And I’m not telling what it is – you have to go experience it!)
Stand in awe at the edge of the carved canyon of colors. Possibly, stay over night to watch the sunset paint the sky with pink and lavender as it sets and turns the Grand Canyon into a paintbox of color.
Or a trip up to a cabin in the woods, near a babbling brook, away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday routine. A chance to take a hike in nature, to smell the perfume of the trees and watch the birds soaring effortlessly in the sky.
Or it could be the tip of a life time. You get to choose! You just need to commit to doing it!
Planning and Remembering
All of these special moments can easily be captured in a picture or a video on your phone camera.
It just needs to be special in your mind. It needs to be replenishing for you.
The planning of your journey is as much a part of the journey as the actual journey itself.
And so is the reliving of it. The sharing of the pictures, telling of the tales, posting on Facebook or Instagram.
Those are all part of the joyful journey.
And when you return, to everyday life, you have an adventure, a journey a break from the ordinary to revisit when the world goes insane.
Peace and Personal Sanity
It becomes a place to return to for peace and personal sanity when what’s on the news or happening in the office is so unbelievable.
Sometimes, we have neither the time, inclination or ability to go far, we just need to find a spot to divert our attention from the crazies.
It can be as simple as sitting in a public park or garden. Or taking a walk along a green space or gazing into a peaceful picture you took on one of your journeys from everyday life. Any of these may give you that moment that let’s you deal with what’s on your plate.
You can create your attitude of gratitude and grace, when you give yourself that time to refresh and replenish.
Daydream a bit, cruise through a book store and visit some of the coffee table books that show incredible pictures of places you have not yet been.
Stop by a travel store and pickup some brochures. It may not be the same as visiting it in person; but it may inspire you to plan that trip and if nothing else, it may change your headspace to something more peaceful.
Feel free to drop me a line if you would like to talk about or get help creating your own peace and serenity spot, contact me at [email protected].
Until next time,