Self-care is an important part of maintaining a healthy mind. It is easy to slip into "auto-pilot" at the beginning of the day when you don't take the time to centre your thoughts and engage in a spiritual practice. Failing to feed the spiritual self on a daily basis can result in burnout, pessimism, lethargy, repressed emotions, unbalanced/ unhealthy relationships, and distorted expectations of the future.
My favourite form of self-care are retreats. In September I had the opportunity to visit a retreat centre in Ontario for 4 days for an self-directed retreat. I engage in a retreat at least once annually as a form of energy clearing, contemplation and planning. The energy of being near the lake and out in the forest for an extended period of time assists me in coming up with fresh ideas to old problems, and to replace stagnant energy with a renewed vibrancy. The healing effects are superior to visiting the lake or a trail for a day because on the retreat you have the benefit of having the property to yourself and just a few other guests. The privacy aids in emotional release. You may speak your deepest thoughts and emotions out loud to release to nature what does not serve you and at the same time breathe in that fresh energy to create a brighter future.
Walking the labyrinth is a particularly powerful way to receive new insights and ideas, to aid in healing and transformation. I find that it assists me in getting rid of stress, replacing self-doubt with self-compassion and being able to see people and relationships in a more forgiving light. At the beginning of the labyrinth, you ask a question you are seeking guidance regarding, or state feelings you are trying to let go of. You may also ask how to make a certain trait a stronger part of your character, if you have lost touch with that part of yourself. Some people choose to repeat a word, phrase or statement repeatedly as they walk, or others just walk being open to any guidance that may arise. In the centre, you take some time to integrate any revelations that came to you as you were walking.
I'd like to share some photos with you of my retreat and hope you will find the time to take one of your own soon.