Sound The Retreat!

My reader will probably not be too surprised to learn that I have been on retreats a couple of times.

After all, someone who gripes about the rush and noise and pressures of the modern world, and who has anxiety issues, tends to spend quite a lot of time yearning for silence and solitude. Because there are, quite frankly, times when everything just gets too much to cope with.

Obviously there are many ways this might be achieved; perhaps I could commit a serious crime and then misbehave in gaol – that would probably lead to a good long spell in solitary, although I can think of several reasons why this might not be the ideal solution.

I could lock myself in a room and refuse to come out – from experience, though, that just leads to unpleasantness and tears. It worked tolerably well when I was a child, but as an adult I can see why it might not look so good.

Whenever I get the opportunity I go for a long walk. Unfortunately, if it is near my home I tend to be surrounded by dogs and dog walkers – not that’s there’s anything wrong with them, I hasten to add, but it’s hardly peaceful. There are several dog owners around here whose voices can not only be heard several counties away because of the sheer volume, but can also smash windows by pitch alone. And I soon get back to roads and so-called civilisation, no matter which route I take.

Then there are lots of other walkers bellowing into mobile phones: ‘Yes, it’s lovely and peaceful out here! Now, let me just yell a few personal and private details at you and anyone else within earshot! What? Yes, I’m still a complete tosser! Why do you ask?’

Going further afield takes more time, and that’s no good if I need a quick fix of silence, so generally I’m stuck with the dog walkers and the tossers.

So, retreats. Other than the meaning of legging it from a superior military force, a retreat is defined as withdrawing to a quiet / peaceful place. There is also the implication of it being a place to indulge in contemplation.

Yes, that’s exactly what I had in mind. Don’t mind if I do.

My first retreat was at an abbey not terribly far from where I live. Although I am not a Christian, I enjoyed a short week of taking quiet walks in the grounds of the abbey and the countryside beyond, reading, rising early and taking a silent breakfast with the monks, and even attending one of the services each day.

foxglove

Some of the time I spent painting watercolours which I have long lost. Since at least one was of foxgloves, here’s a photo of some just so you can imagine how incredibly good the paintings were!

The other retreat was in the North of England, and consisted of a week-long period of meditation with a Buddhist group. This was very hard work, but I did finish the week feeling refreshed.

Of course, it is perfectly possible to organise one’s own retreat by finding somewhere quiet and secluded and staying put for a week or however long one fancies (a year, perhaps?).

Perhaps I should do that soon.

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24 thoughts on “Sound The Retreat!

  1. Never been on a retreat but always imagined that they would be restful and help you totally relax. You’re right about arranging your own ones though, not sure I’d want to be too organised. A desert island for a few weeks perhaps?

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  2. Since I retired, every day is a retreat. Today, I will walk Scooter around the block. Our block is seven miles around. We might see someone, but most days we don’t. When we see someone, they are usually driving by at full speed and I will lift a hand in greeting, in response they may lift a finger or two from the steering wheel – that is considered very friendly. If they stop to say ‘hi’, we usually talk for hours.

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  3. Iā€™ve been on both group retreats and solo ones and both have been wonderfully rejuvenating. As I look back on them, the most memorable and cherished times have been went I went solo for a few hours or a day during a group retreat. I think it was a way of managing polarities and finding the ideal balance of solitude and interaction that I needed. Hope your next retreat is one that makes your soul sing, Mick.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post made me smile, Mick! Why is it so hard to find some peace and quiet these days? Some of us do need a little quiet time in order to keep our sanity. I’ve been on a couple of retreats as well, but made the mistake of not checking them out thoroughly first. They involved lots of “group time” which was not at all what I had in mind. Sounds as if you found some good ones, and maybe you will organize your own soon. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea!

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  5. was it the on in East Grinstead? I have wondered about that place several times.
    The other one which is good is the Poor Claires in Arundel. I cant believe you called anyone a Tosser! MADE ME SMILE…..

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    1. Yes, it was the one just outside East Grinstead; Worth Abbey. I’ve only been there the once, after I heard about it from a work colleague a long time ago (my visit was probably almost 25 years ago, now).

      And you should hear what I call people when I’m really cross!

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  6. Ever since I was a teenager 50-mumble years ago, I’ve been given to retreats. When I was young it simply meant staying home, reading, and generally relaxing – psychologically more than physically. Nowadays it means staying off the internet for a while, sometimes combined with a spot of travel. Retreating in the company of others just wouldn’t do.

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