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The final week of the year, leading up to New Year’s Day is perhaps one of mixed emotions for many. As is our human nature, we tend to look back on the fifty-one weeks of the year gone by, while looking forward to the upcoming year and the promises that it holds for us. We may look at our ‘successes and failures’ from the year, and make plans and set goals for the year to come. Or, we may simply take the time to ‘retreat’ from all the busyness, and create space to rest, recover, recharge, rebuild, refocus, and renewal…

Yes. For me, retreat is an essential part of the act of living a full life. Some may view the notion of retreat as going off to some exotic or far-flung destination of individual solitude. Others may view it as gathering with a group of like-spirited individuals for the common purpose of renewal. Whether it is done individually or with a group, in our own backyards or in an organized setting away from home, the purposes of a retreat are fairly congruent for many. A few of these come to mind…

  • Rest. We do our best work when we are well rested. In my weight-lifting days, we would work different groups of muscles in a three-day rotation – chest and arms, shoulders and back, legs – the fourth day would be one of rest – and then we would repeat the rotation. My ‘coaches’ taught me that if I did not rest the muscles I had exercised, they would not have a chance to…
  • Recover. The exercise of daily life needs – almost demands – a period of recovery. Just like our muscles which form micro-tears with strenuous exercise, the fabric of our life, suffers micro-tears with daily living. A retreat from the world, however brief, allows us time and space to recover. In the retreat, it is essential to have the tools in place, or to acquire new tools, so that one may…
  • Recharge. Tired muscles need good nutrition. Tired minds need good nutrition too. Rest and recovery are essential, but if not ‘fed’ properly during the retreat, our muscles and minds and hearts will have missed an opportunity. The tools of good nutrition allow us to recharge, and multiply the advantage of rest and recovery by accelerating us on the road to…
  • Rebuild. It is very difficult, if not downright inadvisable, to heal without having gone through a period of rest, recovery and recharging. We would simply build upon a weak foundation, which may do us more harm in the long run. The purpose of the three-day rotation was so that the muscle groups, when exercised again on the fourth day, would have had assimilated the mixture of rest (space), recovery (time) and recharging (good nutrition). This would lay the foundation for rebuilt additional strength. In the process, one would occasionally need to…
  • Refocus. Just like life, pursuing a graduate degree and trying to keep to a regular exercise schedule was not always easy. There were many, many distractions, which could easily get me off track. Not to mention that it was difficult to afford good nutrition to recharge. But, ‘my coaches’ had taught me one very important rule. Once we were in our workout area, surrounded by free weights and other folks working out, we always kept focus. This ensured that we never got hurt, and nobody got hurt because of our lack of focus. The easiest way to lose focus is when tired, or hungry or overly emotional… Focus, or lack of it, can cause more injury, to self and others, than strength ever will. Creating time and space for retreat, particularly with a good coach, can help us refocus, so that we end up on the road to…
  • Renewal. It does not really matter what shape we enter the workout area of life in. What matters is that we have a commitment to work, a good coach to guide us, and the tools and resources we need, to recharge, rebuild and refocus on the road ahead. We keep practicing, resting, recharging and renewing. We keep rebuilding the micro-tears at every opportunity, sharing with grace and renewing our commitment to forgiving and living with love.

Do believe me when I say that this post was not intended to be a post about exercise, particularly as some of us (including me) wonder about what to do with all these extra pounds that have found us over the holidays! The analogy just flowed into my brainbox and became a bulwark around which I found myself wrapping the threads of the topic of ‘spiritual retreat’. Each bullet point could be an entire #SpiritChat conversation in itself, and we may do revisit the six points above, at various times over the next year.

For now, let us focus on the topic for Sunday, December 27th – spiritual retreat. I hope you can join us in the live chat on twitter – and share with us – what is your ‘seventh key’? If I don’t ‘see’ you on Sunday, I wish you the best of renewal, and all the best of the holidays and a wonderful year in 2016!

Namaste,

Kumud

P.S. It may well be the case that most of you who have read this far have ‘unplugged’ from ‘social’ for the year, and are in semi-retreat or full retreat already – in that case, I will see you in 2016! Enjoy your retreat!!