We can so easily forget how complex our lives become - constant noise, many choices, spending money, television and other technology and constant distractions. It's only when we remove ourselves from these that we realise the impact they have.
A retreat could be a rather extreme way to take back some simplicity into our lives but it certainly can help to provide an experience that contrasts with our usual lifestyle.
Having no television for example prevents us wasting time flicking channels or distracting ourselves with news repeating all day long. Not communicating with others between 9 and 6 each day encourages an engagement with self that is unfamiliar to people with families and workplaces. It takes some time to get used to that reliance on self for company but a rich opportunity can arise when we trust ourselves.
Simple eating choices can also give us the sustenance we need without the fuss of too many decisions. Staying at home instead of leaving to get a coffee or stock up on chocolate can mean we reduce the toxicity in our bodies.
Enjoying the time to read and write feels like a privilege and overcoming the urge to do some real work takes some effort. Avoiding emails and not having housework or other work to do can give permission for reading and writing and even just thinking. Reducing the other stressors enables more thinking time. Being in a place full of books, some familiar and some never seen before, helps to give a sense that this is what we do here. That helps with giving ourselves permission.
Perhaps the greatest gift of all is the sense of calm and quiet. Hearing birds and not much else helps create an environment conducive to thinking, noticing breathing and self-nurturing. Finding ways to continue this at home could be the real challenge.