The Do-It-Yourself Retreat


retreat_logo1Some of the best retreats I’ve been to have been informal and created for me by me. I knew I needed to get away from my daily routine to unwind, relax and to work through some emotional stuff I’d gone through. At the time, my budget didn’t have room in it to go to a spa or actual retreat, so I created it for myself.

The first time I just decided I could take a week off, I packed my suitcase with the necessities, as well as my journal, some books, some self-help tapes and music. I got in my car and headed north with no particular destination except the North Shore. It was April I think, just starting to warm up and before the tourist season began. I drove until I found a place with an open hotel, checked in and stayed for a week. I spent my days exploring the local sites, watching the ice flows come in from the lake and taking pictures of nature. I spent the evenings journaling, listening to the self-help tapes and resting. I went on a talking fast of sorts. I didn’t call anyone except to inform my family of where I was and pretty much kept to myself and my thoughts.

The week passed all too quickly for me and I was saddened to have to go home again. I had worked through some of my baggage, had some great insights and generally recharged myself so I could go back to my daily life a somewhat lighter version of me.

Years later, I felt I was in need of some healing and recharging again, but this time I found a different venue. My best friend’s family has a small cabin near Duluth with very few amenities other than indoor plumbing and a stove, but it does have a homemade sauna in the garage. The sauna has a wood-burning stove and is used in lieu of the non-existent shower. I asked if I could stay there for a few days and they were kind enough to say yes. Again, I packed the self-help materials, journal and music, but this time I also packed several spiritual items like Medicine Cards, sage, candles and a mini altar.

I spent my week in the sauna every morning chanting and meditating, lying in the sun in the afternoon, and reading and journaling every evening. I had also brought some really good food to cook, and I treated myself to healthy meals – something I wasn’t as able to do on my first retreat. Again, I returned a lighter, happier and healed me.

I think we sometimes get stuck on the idea that a retreat has to be a formal get-away in a specific place, so we put it off and deny ourselves that form of healing. But we can make a retreat for ourselves anywhere if we choose to. You can add home spa treatments, bath salts, aromatherapy, whatever you like that will nourish you. While it is nice to get the star treatment from others if you can afford it, you can treat yourself to the same kind of treatment even at home.

Set aside a day for yourself any time – or take some time away if you like. Setting the intention and making the time for you is the most important thing to remember.



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