So you just returned from the heavenly Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, after a refreshing and re-energizing week-long Silence Retreat at the pristine Art of Living Retreat Center. You are feeling all sorts of blissful, happy, and relaxed, like nothing in the world could bother you at this moment. You want to sustain this happiness, peace, and deep contentment for the months to come. But then, life catches up—the daily grind, demanding bosses, relationship conflicts, the usual triggers of stress … How can you preserve the peace of mind that you returned with? Here’s what you can do to thrive and continue with your practices post-retreat!
Getting back to the daily routine where you must make decisions, argue, negotiate the traffic and pollution, deal with the “noise” of technology and media, and basically get through the day with little time to relax and be by yourself requires adjustment. All you need is a plan to help integrate your learning—practices and takeaways from the retreat— into your daily living.
Six-Step Plan to Thrive
1. Meditate every day.
When you return from a retreat, you will notice that the peace and calm tend to linger, it is easier to meditate, and the experience is deeper. The benefits of the practice continue to unfold long after the retreat has ended. Tap into your gift of post-retreat bliss by meditating for at least 20 minutes daily. Once you’ve established the habit of a daily practice, you’ll find that not only do you look forward to it, but the blissful feelings of calm become the norm.
2. Attend the monthly follow-up sessions.
Stay in touch with your instructors and volunteers on the retreat and attend the monthly reconnect sessions. This is the perfect way to stay connected with your fellow classmates, ask questions that have come up since the retreat, and get a monthly reminder of all that opened up your mind to a new state of wonder!
3. Take notes while on the retreat.
During the retreat, make notes in your diary about what you loved from the day—some sutras, life-affirming wisdom, techniques that you felt worked particularly well for you, or daily reminders and practices that you need to add to your routine.
In doing this, answering the ‘why’ is very important. While you make notes, you can also scribble why you loved what you loved and why you would like it to stay with you. Given how quickly we forget good things, if you don’t mention why your notes may seem irrelevant or disconnected to you a few months down the line.
4. Update your routine.
You will be given take-home instructions by your teachers. Jot them down and immediately draw up a routine where you will fit in these new practices and activities.
For example, if you intend to start doing more service after the retreat, add an hour or two to your weekly schedule for getting people together and doing some service activity. Or, if your intention is to meditate longer and more regularly post-retreat, decide if you would like to add those 20 minutes early in your day or maybe during the afternoon when you feel slightly tired and sluggish.
5. Make groups with fellow participants.
It is said that in our times, any goal is better achieved when pursued in groups rather than individually. So whether you want to achieve a new level of fitness or spiritual growth or get on a new Ayurveda-inspired diet, spend time with the like-minded people you attended the retreat with and start a community for continuing with the lessons and techniques you learned.
Having this community of positive and self-driven people that you connected with on a much deeper level at the retreat, who are as keen to grow as yourself, will become your support system when life is challenging.
6. Share and inspire.
On a spiritual path, the more you bring peace and relief into the life of others by nudging them to experience what you experienced, the more spiritual merit comes to you in the form of blessings and peace that others feel because of you.
So, if you loved the retreat and found it shifted something in your life for the better, then talk about it with others. Some of these practices, including the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, taught in the programs have been scientifically validated to relieve and heal modern-day illnesses, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, hypertension, and much more. Who knows who you are helping when you share such profoundly transformational practices!