Contemplative Life

10 Ways to Turn Your Home Into a Retreat Space

Have you ever left a pile of papers or blankets or clothes in a corner of your home and then proceeded to forget all about it?  It never goes anywhere, but we lose the ability (or the will) to see it properly.  So too with God’s presence in our homes.

All space is sacred space because all space is saturated with God’s presence.  Most of the time, though, we struggle to see that deeper reality, especially in familiar places, like our homes.  It is all-too-easy to grow distracted by the myriad reminders strewn about the house of chores to finish, loops to close, and yes, piles to tidy.  This can make it very difficult to “snap-into” a spiritual frame of mind when you start an online retreat, church service, or Bible study.

Thankfully, after several months of hosting online retreats (and over a decade running a retreat center), we can offer 10 simple steps you can take that will help turn your home into a space where you can see the God who is always and already there.

1.  Have a candle with you that you light at the beginning of the retreat and keep it lit near you while you are “on retreat”


2.  If possible, find a space other than your normal work space for your home retreat space.


3.  Take a long screen break during lunch.


4.  When appropriate, try to get outside for a while and breathe in some fresh air.  Stretch your legs too if you can!


5.  Employ contemplative imagery like icons or works of art, or incense, to help draw you into God’s presence with different senses during times of silence.


6.  Do whatever you can to create space for actual silence.  Anticipate how you will handle distractions when they come your way, i.e. phone, computer, people you live with, etc.


7.  Put down your to-do list.  If your brain keeps cycling back to something, keep a notepad nearby to write it down so you won’t forget it and you can put it aside in your mind for a while.


8.  Change positions when necessary to help keep your attention and try different ways of sitting or standing during the retreat.  Make sure you have a comfortable furniture arrangement and a quiet space where you can concentrate.


9.  Enjoy a lovely cup of a beverage you enjoy to start the day.  Savor it.  Pay attention to the experience.


10.  Consider what might need to be left behind in order to be fully present during the retreat.  Something physical (your phone, perhaps?), a concern, a worry, a responsibility, an expectation, an obstacle, something else…


We wish you many rich, invigorating, grace-filled home retreats!

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