A daily mindfulness practice is incredibly helpful. All the data shows that we can reverse a lot of reactive habits that keep us stuck with more stress and anxiety than we need. But if we’re practicing just 20-minutes a day, there’s still the rest of the time that we are probably pretty hurried and heedless and continuing our draining habits. To really stabilize practice and integrate the joy of meditation into every aspect of life, I’ve come to believe (through not doing this and running into trouble) that we need at least one or two annual retreats where we’re able to drop everything: the cellphone, the planning, the traffic, the tv shows, the social calendar, the news. All of it. And just be.

These kinds of retreats are hard to commit to because we always feel so behind. So we generally put them off and say I’ll do one of those when I’m all caught up – and rich. Believe me, I’ve done that for years at a stretch in the past and suffered consequences.

The truth is, though, that nobody ever catches up. And we feel more behind than we are because our energy is drained and scattered.

A meditation retreat won’t get all your work done, but in my experience it’s so rejuvenating and de-cluttering, that when you’re done you’re not just spinning your wheels in reactivity and getting caught up in, say, political fires at work that waste your time and energy, or projects that aren’t aligned with what you really want to do. You’re more efficient, more focused, more compassionate, more available, more full.

There are a lot of good retreats out there, but
I hope some of you can join psychologist Arnold Kozak and me this January 21-26 at 1440 Multiversity for a full 5-day retreat of mindfulness, writing, hiking in the redwoods, and, for those who want them, surfing and yoga. It’s going to be really wonderful. Here’s how to sign up.

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