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January, like all of the winter season, is a time for naturally turning inward. It’s a time for cozy, warm blankets and hot tea. The winter season is a time to meditate and allow space for inspiration. It’s the time before the seeds are planted in the spring — the time to choose what seeds to plant. A way to embrace the meditative energy of the winter season is to create your own mini-retreat.

What is a mini-retreat? It is time you carve out with specific intention and care for body, mind, energy and soul. It’s a nourishing date with yourself with some form of meditation practice at its center that inspires you!

I get that calendars are booked up so quickly and it’s so hard to find the time for coziness and contemplation. One way to make sure you have the chance to embrace the energy that winter offers is to schedule an hour or two, or maybe a full or half day, on the calendar and call it your mini-retreat. Once you schedule it, respect it like any plan, and say no to other invitations that arise. You’re booked!

So what to do on your mini-retreat? Keep it simple and spacious.

  1. Start with an intention. Are you looking for.. Guidance? Inspiration? Room to breathe? Intention becomes your guide for the rest of the time.

  2. Determine the setting. Logistics - where is a quiet, inspiring place you can be in? Do you have a space in your home where you meditate? Do you need to get out of the house and take a yoga class? Do creative outlets call to you, like painting or drawing? How about a drive to look at the ocean? A walk (or snowshoe) adventure in the woods? If your inspired setting is outdoors, have a back up plan for weather so you don’t have to cancel your mini-retreat.

  3. The activity you choose (meditating, yoga, walking, journaling, maybe a combination) is one that helps you turn inward. Begin with your intention. Take some time with it. Allow your intention to be part of the practice and also leave room to go with the flow. Your practice doesn’t have to look or be a certain way, let yourself have some space.

  4. Soak it in. At the end of your practice, I suggest closing by journaling to note your reflections. Spend a few moments in gratitude for any insights you received and for yourself and anyone else who supported you in creating this time.

That’s it. The hardest part is the scheduling, the rest is rejuvenating.

I have experienced that a profound shift in your day can happen by taking one minute or less to focus on something you are grateful for. It works best when you pause immediately upon realizing you can do this. Your gratitude can be anything, for example, maybe you pause and feel gratitude for a light breeze of wind, a recent accomplishment, or a deep inhale and exhale.

This practice resets your mindset AND each time you pause for a moment of gratitude, you reinforce positive thinking. It becomes more automatic each time. Gratitude helps us see the reality of all the good things in our life, and it is said that when we are grateful, we are in our highest vibrational state - ease, peace, happiness.

To kickstart this practice, set an alarm to remind you to practice gratitude daily or associate it with a daily routine (e.g., making lunch, brushing your teeth).

Summer can be full of beautiful moments -- a refreshing dive into cool water, laughter shared around a fire pit, reaching a spectacular view on a hike, logging off on a Friday before vacation starts. When you find yourself in a precious moment, soak it in even more by being aware of yourself in a state of happiness and contentment. Then allow gratitude to enter the moment as well.

All of this helps amplify the good feelings and strengthens your radar for identifying more good moments, so they don't rush by you. Happy Summer!

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