The Nobility of Retreat*
* Swami Kripalu’s Words
Aren’t we just such busy little bees? Don’t we just get so very busy, doing like everything?
Oops, perhaps I should utilize the more spiritually correct “I” version of that statement:
Aren’t I such a busy little bee? Don’t I just get so very busy doing, like, everything?
I work so hard these days, at working less.
I work so hard these days, being in the moment, staying present, not getting off my wave.
I work so hard at teaching anyone who might listen how to stay present, not getting off your waves.
I think of the brilliant and beautiful quote by our Bapuji, Swami Kripalu, who taught about the nobility of retreat.
The nobility of retreat.
We must get off the wave.
We must renew.
We must retreat.
I have thought about this quote for forever-now.
I don’t think he was suggesting my diving into a troth of Ben and Jerry’s, bungee-ing the remote control to my dominant hand and retreating into deep mindful relaxation.
That’s probably more an off-the-wave technique, which, by the way, works for about 90 seconds for me. The ice cream is wonderful, FOR A WHILE, the binge-watching is fun, FOR A WHILE. Yet the outcome isn’t relaxing or renewing, but, for me, probably has some physical consequences (headache is a good guess), some emotional consequences (feeling dulled, etc.), and spiritual consequences (disconnection, rather than connection).
So how do we practice the nobility of retreat?
How do we relax to let go, in order to ready ourselves to be more alive and more present?
How do we look outside the habitual check-out behaviors that settle into our brains, our lives and our behaviors and consider retreating with nobility, with discernment, with choice?
First, let’s consider that fun-conversation, how do you get off the wave?
When I count to three, everybody scream aloud your three favorite exit doors, your m.o., you way outta the moment, outta the huge day, which you deserve (if you had my day), which you grant yourself without choice:
- Eating food that isn’t even food
- Eating food that is food, but, oh, too much of it
- Reaching for sugar (no more need be said)
- Drinking one too many glasses of ___
- Continuing to work even when work is not working
- Wandering social media, looking for feelings
- Roaming Amazon Prime, searching for deals
- Diving into recreational drugs even when they are not recreating anymore
- Grabbing people! Sex! More people! No people! Never sex.
- Indulging fantasy
- Collapsing into nothing-land
And so on, folks.
Big announcement: there is nothing, nothing wrong with any of these processes. I believe, however, when they become habitual, when choice isn’t available to us, we deprive ourselves.
Our lives are so full (even when they aren’t), the world around us so toxic, the challenges so evasive yet so real……how can we retreat and calm, renew and restore?
We deprive ourselves of choice, of freedom, of true and deeper connection to ourselves.
Okay, Experiment #2:
When I count to three, shout out the things you do that bring you true retreat, true renewal.
Okay, I heard:
- Walking in woods
- Animal companions
- Yoga nidra
- Animal companions
- Did I say, animal companions?
- Any arts, crafts, creativity
- Movement! Dance, walking, running
Using discernment, considering, making a choice, I believe these are the key concepts that offer us the nobility of retreat.
To release from the habitual,
To soften the patterns that bind us,
To offer our hearts choice,
To remember that we can
Make a choice.
Those are the blessings of the nobility of retreat.
Here is a stunning 30-minute Tibetan chanting and accompanying video, which describes itself as, “Tibetan Healing Sounds: Cleans the Aura and Space. Removes all negative energy.”
Listen to part of it, play all of it—experiment and explore. And, savor its doorway to retreat.
May you be healthy,
May you be happy.
May you ride
The waves of your life.
May you live in peace,
May you savor