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9 Ways to Create a DIY Mindful Weekend Retreat

9 Ways to Create a DIY Mindful Weekend Retreat
Autumn is calling and we're all turning inwards. This is the season of slowing down, letting go, and letting all that is no longer needed fall away. The excess and extroverted energy of Summer is subsiding, and all that is no longer necessary begins to soften and fall away. This is a time for slowing down, softening and releasing. Here are 9 ways to turn your weekend into a personal retreat (or create mindful moments within it) this Autumn.

1. Simplify
Peel it back. Start reigning it in. Now is an opportunity to do less, creating greater space. Whilst in Summer we may have been trying to fit in as much as possible while the sun was shining; now is a time when less is more. Try prioritizing your intentions for your weekend. If self care and rest are high on that list, empower yourself by saying 'no' to things, people and opportunities that you know won't nourish you. You can ask yourself simply "will this drain me, or sustain me?". And when it comes to things you simply cannot get out of, create space on either side of the engagement for rest.

2. Silence is golden
Create time for silence. No television or music as background noise. No talking, reading, or phone scrolling. No stimulation but the natural sounds around you. If you're able, you can try to share the experience with your family or people you live with, creating a whole day of silence. If that luxury is not available to you, try waking up earlier than the rest and spend an hour in silence in the early morning. This practice will help to ground you into the reality you're experiencing, and hone your skill of listening to the subtleties of the world around you. If you're living in a big city and even the early hours aren't peaceful, make time to go to a park or natural area and immerse yourself in silence.

3. Embody pleasure
A movement is growing, especially amongst women, redefining what pleasure means and how we can embody it in our daily lives. Inviting more pleasure into our lives literally means becoming more grounded in our bodies. It means evoking all of our senses in our daily life, and noticing the small moments of pleasure throughout our day. The breeze on your skin. The smell of food cooking. The fabric against your skin. It keeps us in our bodies, out of our minds, and celebrates what makes us feel good. We know that what we pay our attention to grows. And each moment of pleasure we acknowledge and appreciate, sends a message to our brains that "it is ok to feel good". It is re-wiring our brain to feel into, sense and seek out the pleasure of life in every moment. Try keeping a journal for the weekend, acknowledging the pleasurable moments in your day. See how it feels for the weekend, and try extending it to your week to. We all need to give ourselves permission to feel good.

4. Eat mindfully
Create time to cook and eat slowly. Let the food be nourishing this weekend. Infuse your stews, soups and teas with little prayers, wishes and blessings. When you eat, do it slowly, savouring every mouthful. Put your utensils down in between each bite. And don't rush from one to the next. You can tell a lot about your current state of mind by the way that you eat. Notice if your breathing and pace. Are you rushing for you, or someone else? Are you distracted easily and not making time to sit and complete a meal? Do you inhale your food or mindfully chew. Notice your natural inclination, and then mindfully slow it down.

5. Phone free weekend
Just the idea of this brings a big sigh of relief. With a little fore-planning, see if it is possible to go phone free for the entire weekend. If not, can you sign out of social media for the weekend instead? In 2017, Flurry Analytics reported people in the US are spending more than 5 hours per day on their smartphones. Our smartphones and devices are not necessarily a bad thing, like everything else, we can use our apps to drain or sustain our lives. But endless hours of scrolling to fill up the time we would otherwise spend alone, is a hazardous addiction. Try a weekend away from games and social apps that deplete your energy and more time in the reality around and within you.

6. Meaningful moments
If socialising with others is part of your self care for your weekend retreat, invite your friends and family to partake in nourishing activities. Cook a meal together, with plenty of time to enjoy it. Go for a walk or to a park and immerse yourselves in nature. Try setting intention setting together, wether as individuals or as a family/ group. Create moments of genuine connection, instead of activities which further disconnect you (like drinking, partying, or watching films - where you are disengaged with each other). Think old school board games, cycling, dancing or getting crafty.

7.  Ritual bath
Your bath is to cleanse yourself of any stagnancies, old habits, patterns or limiting beliefs you would like to rinse yourself of, and to infuse yourself with positive intention. Essentially ridding yourself of fears and steeping yourself in trust. Rosemary and cinnamon are especially good for circulation (great for release stagnant energy). Epsom salts and charcoal are great detoxifiers. Lavender and peppermint soothe. Rose and cardamom are wonderful for the heart and opening one to more trust. Use your intuition, do a little research (be mindful if you have sensitive skin, to use only what works for you) and gather your materials with intention. These can be herbs, flowers, essential oils and candles and incense for the bathroom. Let these pieces be ones that you intuitively feel align with your intention. Take time to craft the atmosphere of your bathroom as you feel. As you run your bath, say your intention aloud, blessing the water. State aloud what you want to release, and step into the bath with trust. Steep in your medicine.

8. Write a love letter to the world
Love letters are small blessings for not only the recipient, but yourself. As you not only acknowledge the beauty of another, but also the beauty which is inside of that you are witnessing in the world around you. Addressing a love letter to the world is an outward expression of your love for your life and the universe at large. Knowing you are going to write one will have you paying extra attention to the small moments and movements of the natural world. It is opening yourself to a new level of intimacy and appreciation with the world around you.

9. Do something for yourself
Create some time to do one thing that is just for you. It could be riding a bicycle, taking yourself for a picnic in a beautiful place, wearing something you love but usually save for special occasions. It could be yoga, or dancing or face painting. Cooking yourself a beautiful meal, reading, or creating a drawing or painting for only your eyes to see. It might mean taking a class or playing an instrument you haven't touched in a long time. Something that makes you feel good by and for yourself.

You probably won't be able to fit all of these into a weekend, and hopefully this list has sparked some ideas of your own, that will feed your soul and nourish you over the weekend. Enjoy creating space to slow down, feel more and create a safe space for yourself to tune in.

Words by Kirilly Dawn