No clock. No phone. No schedule. No running water. No computer. No talking. No electricity. No hair brush. No datebook. No mirror. No make-up. No doing for anyone else, but me.
I am away on a self-generated retreat for 5 days and 4 nights in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods. I am commemorating the 1 year anniversary of a vision fast I did in the desert last year at this time. It is tradition to mark the experience. And it is more than that. I feel called to take the time to reflect on the past year in a way that is free of the usual obligations, and most of all, free of the expectations I carry of myself. The ones that no longer serve.
While I was away, my theme was “getting to just be.” As in having a chance to see who and what I am when I am not linked into all of the things that I do every single day. Like how I look to others. Or when I am supposed to eat or sleep according to a clock. Or how I need to feel at any given moment. Or how I use my words. Or keep my commitments. Or smell.
This kind of experience carries with it the power to take us back to a natural and unself-conscious way of being within ourselves. Something that is actually a birthright and was present to us as children before we were conditioned by the circumstances and experiences of our lives. To a place inside where we innately and instinctively know exactly how to move and breathe and think and feel and want and need and voice and exist; according to rhythms simple, truthful and authentic. And while it is there waiting for us, always and in all ways, it takes time to peel back the layers. To quiet the critical and limiting voices in your head. To give yourself the permission.
And it takes practice. Lots of it.
Do you ever wonder what is beneath all the doing, the structuring, and the tending to the cultural, relational, and personal expectations around who you need to be? Want to find out? If so, how about scheduling your own version of a retreat to “Just Be.” You don’t have to go far. Your own home could do as a start. All you need is some space on your own. Whatever that looks like for you.
Turn everything off. Chuck the schedule and the have-to’s. Let yourself lay around. Let yourself be directed by simple basic urges like bathroom needs, hunger, thirst, comfort, rest, and movement. Let your mind do what it does without taking it too seriously. Or better yet, put it on vacation mode. Include lots and lots of Nature. She is the greatest teacher of all around how to just be naturally.
So whether you have an hour, a day, or a weekend, what would it be like to give yourself over to the experience of just getting to be? No apology, justification or explanation required. Or even allowed. Can you imagine giving this to yourself? Time to just be? Moment by moment. No matter what the mind might throw up saying this is stupid or that you do not have the right, or that it is too much or a waste of time.
You do have the right. As bestowed upon you by Creation itself to be fully and authentically a being who gets to just be.