How to Create Your Own At-Home Retreat [Video]
After a long winter, do you notice yourself dreaming of a getaway? Maybe you envision yourself somewhere warm or just somewhere… quiet.
It’s not always possible to get away, but it is possible to cultivate the elements of retreat in your own space, within whatever amount of time you have.
Curious where to begin?
Allowing yourself two full days to immerse in this magic is an amazing gift, but even setting aside one day or an afternoon will make an impact on your body’s ability to reset, rejuvenate, and regenerate.
Before you decide what will take place within this designated timeframe, it’s important to get really clear on what elements of a retreat are calling to you.
For most of us, retreats evoke some combination of rest, stillness, slowing down, embodiment, deep listening (intuition), nourishment, reflection, care, ease, fluidity, rejuvenation, and release.
Notice which of these experiences is calling to you. With that in mind, you’re ready to curate a custom Ayurvedic retreat that can be completed from the comfort of your own cozy home.
6 Tips for a Successful At-Home Retreat
For many of us, taking time just for ourselves can feel next to impossible. Even after you decide to create a retreat, I can almost guarantee other things will arise to compete for your time and attention.
But your well-being is important. And it’s okay to prioritize YOU. Here are six helpful tips to create an at-home retreat that actually happens.
1. Create Space
Mark off time in your calendar for an afternoon, a day, or an entire weekend retreat. Once you’ve blocked the time out, make it non-negotiable.
This may involve taking a moment to strategize so that your kids have appropriate care and important action items in your life get completed in advance, delegated, or deprioritized to the following weekend.
If you find yourself trying to operate in your life at full capacity while “resting,” it’s not going to feel like a retreat at all. Set the boundaries in advance to protect your time, space, and energy. Then honor yourself by sticking to it.
2. Set an Intention
Get clear on what feeling, quality, or experience you’d like to cultivate over the course of your home retreat. It often helps to pick just one or two words, like tranquility or clarity.
Let this clear intention-setting guide your preparation process and serve as a reminder of your commitment to yourself.
3. Outline an Itinerary
Have fun creating a dreamy retreat itinerary, but keep it spacious and don’t over schedule yourself. Hint: Pick at least one body care ritual, one mindfulness practice, and one nourishing beverage or recipe.
If you have an Ayurvedic practice that you’ve been curious about, this is a great time to try it! If you’re looking for some inspiration and ideas, keep reading—I’ve got you covered.
4. Gather Your Supplies
Stock up on whatever herbal teas or supplements will support your intention. Tulsi tea, for example, can be a great companion for cultivating a heart-centered space.
Consider which body care items will make your rituals feel doable and enjoyable. I always recommend having an herbal massage oil on hand, but you might also like to have a beautiful candle, a special bar of soap, or additional skin care favorites.
Gathering a couple simple items to signal to yourself that something special is happening is all you need!
5. Prepare Your Home
Set up your space in a way that feels peaceful and beautiful to you. This can be as simple as tidying up around the house. You may also want to find some fresh or dried botanicals around the neighborhood or a simple bouquet of flowers to display in your home.
If you feel inspired, take some time to set up an altar that inspires gratitude and mindfulness and reminds you of your retreat intention.
6. Clarify Your Commitments
You’ve already set your intention, but ask yourself what specific commitments you will make during this window of time. Hone in on some more themes or practices that will help you embody your intention. Here are some ideas:
Eat clean, nourishing foods
Skip social media or limit your screen time
Take a pause from caffeine and/or alcohol
Don’t talk about anything work-related
Practice the art of self-love
Getting clear on what you’re committing to will also help you set realistic and helpful boundaries to stay true to your intention for this at-home retreat.
If you are aiming to create a container that enables a sort of digital detox vibe, I encourage you to temporarily remove your social media apps and switch your phone to airplane mode or leave it in another room whenever possible.
Now that you’ve established your intention and commitments, let’s talk about cultivating specific rituals to support your retreat.
7 Rituals for Reflection and Renewal
A ritual is created by a collection of intentional choices coming together in a unique way. Use this list to dream up an embodied retreat ritual that enables you to flow toward your intention and rest in your commitments.
Start your retreat day with morning pages. This is a journaling technique where you allow yourself to put whatever arises in your mind onto the page without judgment or overthinking. It helps me to set a timer for 20–30 minutes and to keep going to the best of my ability until the timer runs out.
This is a great way to ground the swirling thoughts that can arise with excess vata dosha in the winter months. It is also a great way to create space in the mind that leads to clarity and inspiration—the gifts of balanced vata.
If you’re not sure what to write about, start by re-declaring the intention for your retreat, naming the ways you are committing to showing up for yourself, and expressing gratitude for everything that is feeling good.
Now that you’ve cleared your mind a bit, try a short and simple meditation. This is something that you can do with eyes open or closed, depending on whichever is more comfortable. You can listen to a 10-minute guided recording or just notice your breath moving in and out.
If you want to deepen your mindfulness experience by trying something a little different, experiment with the Ayurvedic practice of candle gazing. Do this by gently staring at the flame of a candle for the duration of your meditation, ideally about 20 minutes.
This practice in particular is excellent for restoring the subtle essences, especially tejas. Healthy tejas promotes courage, discernment, and focus.
After all of that stillness, the body is likely craving some movement to soothe and strengthen kapha dosha. Sit on the floor and let yourself stretch in any way that feels good. Try incorporating a few yoga postures, such as cat-cow, downward dog, butterfly, or some gentle twisting.
Then, step outside for a leisurely walk. Make sure you’re appropriately bundled up if it’s chilly! While your walking, practice reorienting your attention to the present moment by simply noticing what’s around you.
Tap into your senses by listening to the rustling of leaves, feeling the air on your cheek, or watching a bird soar overhead. Just for this walk, pretend like you are on a silent retreat and refrain from putting in headphones or earbuds.
See if this simple walk around the neighborhood can be transformed into a moving meditation.
Hydration is absolutely key for your body and mind to function at their very best. Enjoy beverages at room temperature or above to set yourself up for more effective hydration.
When you add botanicals to hot water, in the form of tea or an herbal latte, not only are you offering your body hydration, but you are giving yourself a chance to receive the potent medicine from the herbs as well.
Herbs like tulsi or ashwagandha can be especially beneficial for mental rejuvenation. (Note: ashwagandha is not for everyone—if you notice a thick coating on your tongue or have elevated pitta, try bacopa instead.)
Soothe and engage your mind without screens by enjoying a book. As the brain focuses on this single task of reading, a kind of one-pointedness kicks in that enables an increase in relaxation and a decrease in stress.
For affirmation on why your retreat matters, I recommend getting a copy of Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey or How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell.
When adorned in warm herbal oils, the skin can actually absorb this as medicine and use it to benefit other internal systems—including the nervous system, the digestive system, and the circulatory system.
Once your body is covered in herbal oil, soak in a warm bath so the oil can penetrate even more deeply, leaving your skin soft and supple and your nervous system soothed.
If I had to declare one of these practices as THE most important practice for embodying the energy of retreat, this one would be it.
When we are rested, ideas flow. If you’re unsure how to rest and reflect, consider listening to mantra, beautiful instrumental music, or an insightful podcast that allows you to be relatively still while maintaining a space of curiosity and reflection.
Alternatively, watch the clouds out the window or the leaves on the trees. Give yourself permission to lay down, close your eyes, and vision new possibilities.
Throughout the duration of your at-home retreat, return to any of the above practices as many times as you desire. When in doubt, move through the entire series all over again.
Remember—You Are Worthy
If you find yourself second guessing whether it’s even possible for you to do an at-home retreat, please remember these two things:
You are worthy of rest.
It is ok to slow down.
It is not always easy to take time for ourselves, but it is important. The way you care for yourself now will impact how you are able to show up later. Rest and replenishment enable us to feel more like ourselves by gently enhancing our capacity for pleasure, patience, and deep discernment.