Retreat for the soul

If you were to tour inside my mind, I think it would resemble something like this small little cabin. My brain is compartmentalized in four sections. Once you enter the door of my mind, you will first walk into the communal space with a very inviting sofa sitting in the middle of the living room. Warm and cozy fireplace is always burning in the corner facing the sofa and you just want to grab a hot chocolate and sit for a while. Then you walk into one of the two rooms, both identical, dark, and plain. It’s just a squared neat place with nothing but the bed. In here, nothing occurs to your mind but sleep. If we meet in this room of my brain, we will have a pretty boring encounter. The other room looks just the same. Dark, square, empty, with only a candle burning in the corner. Upon entering, however, the vastness of this space might startle you despite the smallness of the space. There’s so much silence and so much depth. Once your eyes adjust to this room, you will slowly walk over to the small candle dimly lit in the corner and stare at the sacred light. Then, you feel as if you are standing right in front of God. You stay here for a timeless moment. Next, you walk into the sunroom and it’s such a contrast. It’s so bright, so inspiring, so positive, and so uplifting. We will exchange ideas, share stories, laugh and just purely enjoy each other’s presence.

jung tower.jpgNumber four symbolizes wholeness to Jung, and it is no wonder that Jung’s tower ended up with four buildings connected to form a whole tower. Each building was added at a 4-year-interval. What began as a primitive dwelling place grew into something more complicated that was the expression of Jung’s very own soul. Getting away from the stress of the modern world as a way to create an inner space for one’s soul work has been a long-time tradition. Monks secluded themselves in monasteries and ascetics went into the desert. Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau built a cabin near Walden pond, and the reclusive poet Emily Dickenson spent her later life in her family homestead seeing less and less people. Getting away is no longer the result of answering a higher calling. Radius Global Market Research reports that vacation rental industry generated $85 billion in 2010. It is pretty clear that the need for “some concrete, physical expression of retreat” is high for many modern dwellers. This “concrete, physical expression of retreat”, Thomas Moore explains, could be the beginning of a spiritual life that would nourish the soul. He goes on to list some modest forms of retreat that are practical and economic in case one cannot afford to build an annex to nourish the soul.

Create a drawer where dreams and thoughts are kept. Dedicate five minutes in the morning to write down the night’s dream or to reflect on the day ahead.

Take a walk through the woods instead of touring the shopping mall.

Keep the television in the closet so that watching it becomes a special occasion.

Purchase a piece of sacred art that helps focus attention on spirituality.

As for me, I go on a simple mountain getaway with my family for a night or two once in a while. That’s about all the getaway that I dream of doing. I am mostly at home, at a retreat in my own mind, thanks to the peace that Jesus gave me. Spirituality doesn’t need to be grandiose and ceremonial, but it does need to be consistent, mindful, and regular. My quiet morning coffee routine usually ends in a few minutes’ time with my baby’s invitation into her playhouse. But these few minutes are enough to honor my time with my soul. It’s enough time to make a quick promise to be true to my God and my soul. This daily reminder is crucial for my spiritual growth. Playing all morning with my daughter, making her laugh, and discovering what she likes are all spiritual activities. I feel my soul fully engaged, coming fully alive when I am spending time with my daughter. When she naps, I do my study on counseling and the sacredness of this profession enlists my soul for the sacred call of duty in serving God and the humanity. I light my candle placed in front of a small postcard of Jesus at nighttime. This ritual is my daily spirituality at its climax because it is during this hour that I feel most connected not only to my very own soul but to God, to all humanity, and the world that was, is, and is to come. Nighttime sleep is filled with peace, a sense of closure but a sense of renewing at the same time. It’s the time that my soul takes its deepest rest that it deserves. When each day is lived such as this, one’s soul is never far away from its source, God. Each day is a retreat, the testimony of healing, lived fully in the presence of God that restores it all.

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