Bring Your Intentions to Life

Creating Space for What’s Really Important

Hi there and happy September! For me, September, and back-to-school time is like a second “new year”. And, of course, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, does take place in September this year. And this year, it’s also a significant new start for me, as I just returned from leading a magical retreat in Costa Rica.

Returning from retreat always represents an opportunity to make a fresh start, bring home some of the learning from retreat, and incorporate renewed mindfulness and healthy habits into my days. These changes can be tricky, especially when current habits seem so natural.

That’s why these significant times of new beginnings—return from retreat, new school year, etc., can be so ripe for creating space for new habits and rituals that help you focus on what is truly important.

So, in this blog, I’d like to share some thoughts I have on bringing the magic and intention of retreat into my “regular” life. Whether you have just returned from retreat or not, these can give you some good fodder for what you need to do to smooth out new year transitions and bring some new mindful moments into your days!

  1. Take time to set some intentions. On retreat, we remind ourselves to set intentions at the beginning of each practice, and that continues into our days. We ask ourselves “What is important right now?” or “How do I want to show up for myself?”. These are great questions to ask on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. You can always revisit these intentions, but they will give you some good grounding for keeping your focus on what’s important. Intentions can be your “bouncer”, deciding what gets in and what stays out of your day.
  1. Commit to a regular mindfulness practice. Retreats are grand, because we practice once or twice daily, and we make it a priority. And we take our time; we have nice, long practices. In our busy days, it is likely not realistic to practice twice a day, and we might not have time for a luxurious 90-minute practice. So, ask yourself what you do have time for. Make it something that doesn’t feel daunting, and make it something you like, something you might even look forward to.Do you have 3 minutes in the morning to focus on your breath? Great, you can make that your regular practice. Do you have time, twice a week, to go to a studio for a Yoga class? Will you listen to a recorded meditation before going to sleep? Is there a class you can conveniently attend via Zoom, from the comfort of your own home? It doesn’t matter how long it is, or really what you do. What is important is a commitment to a regular practice. Benefits of a regular practice include reducing anxiety, depression and even pain, and can help improve sleep and reduce stress. But you already knew that!

  1. How can you make your daily life more “retreat-like”? As I think about what I loved about retreat, a few things come to mind. When I’m on retreat, my heart is truly open, and ready to receive new experiences and people with no pre-conceived notions. That’s something I can decide to do, even when not on retreat. When I’m on retreat, I savor meals made with fresh, local ingredients, choosing what really nourishes my body and soul. That’s something I can decide to do, even when not on retreat, although it is a little harder. When I’m on retreat, I make time to sit with people and really listen to what they have to say, without judgement, without checking my phone, with no agenda at all. That is something I can do, even when I’m not on retreat. Whether or not you just returned from retreat (or vacation), what can you decide to do, to keep those good vibes going?
  1. Cultivate your support system. On retreats, strong connections are forged in a short amount of time. This can be beneficial in helping you understand that you are not alone in the challenges that you face. You may meet someone who has a great idea for a solution to a problem you have, or simply someone who understands what you are going through and helps you feel that you are not alone. So, returning from retreat, or any fortifying experience, how can you maintain that support? Maybe you make a plan to stay connected to someone you met. Or you reflect on the people that are in your life and nurture those relationships. Maybe there is someone you want to ask to be an “accountability partner” in some realm of your life. Keep those connections going!
  1. Manage expectations. You may be ready to change the world when you return from or complete a significant experience. You may want to share your experience and have everyone be just as excited as you are. Just remember, not everyone had the same experience you did. You might pause and think of one or two significant things to share, and it may take others a beat or two to catch up with you. Take your time, and release some expectations of others, and of yourself. Trust that changes will happen over time, and be patient, as new ways of being do take some time to become new habits.

Good luck with this list and creating positive change in the new year! And, when you are ready for your next retreat, check out where I’m going next right here!

Be Well. ~Lisa

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