A beautiful outdoor retreat often involves four elements:
1. Doing formal sitting meditation practice. This helps us take an attitude of awe and wonder toward our thoughts and insights, practiced within a context of interior spaciousness.
2. Doing a bit of reading from something that is spiritually nourishing. This gets the creative juices flowing.
3. Sitting in silence and just listening for whatever the "still, small voice" of the Spirit might be saying at the time. On prolonged retreats, this element predominates.
4. Journaling about whatever insights or feelings have come to us, including insights and feelings from both #2
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These elements can be done in any order, depending on how one feels led at the time. Sometimes the reading can be dropped when the mind and heart are already quiet and attentive.
Photo: Me having a retreat at our campsite at Arches National Park, UT, September 1, 2018
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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” - Thoreau.