Creating a personal retreat: A field guide

When I drew the cards for the {self}love-o-scope, I was thrilled that we were starting the month off with a personal retreat. Not only is it one of the most radical acts of self-love, it is also a powerful and transformative process. And it’s been too long since I made some time to go on a retreat myself, so I am really looking forward to it.

So, without any further ado, let’s get this party started!

how to create personal retreat at home a guide

What is a retreat?

A retreat is any amount of time that you spend alone, away from your day-to-day responsibilities and chores. Like any other act of self nurturing, a personal retreat is a radical form of self-love. There is generally quiet time and meditation involved, some journaling or art/collage, or even an element of adventure – there’s no wrong way to go on a retreat.

It can last from a week to a weekend, a day, a half-day, a few hours, even as little as 30 minutes. You don’t even need to go anywhere fancy – you can do a personal retreat right in your own home {you just need a bit of a set up, but we’ll get to that in a minute}.

Why go on a retreat?

Well, why not? It’s the perfect opportunity to take a break from the responsibilities and worries of daily life. A personal retreat can help you to unplug from the everyday stress and spend some time in peace and solitude. It is also the perfect time to really focus your intentions, get in touch with yourself and figure out where it is that you want to go next in any area of your life. The reasons to go on a personal retreat are infinite, the benefits plenty.

Designing a personal retreat

But how do you create a retreat? It’s simple, really. There’s a structure to a personal retreat and certain key elements that go into each stage of the process.

First, we set an intention: It can take as little as five minutes to determine the intention of your retreat, but is a key element of the process. You may already have an idea of what you want to achieve on your retreat; if you don’t, it’s a fairly simple process to figure out the intention for your retreat.

Answer these questions in your journal or on a piece of paper:

When you think of the word retreat, what comes to mind?

Why are you wanting to go on a retreat?

What do you hope to accomplish?

What do you fear may happen?

Now go over your answers – what jumps out at you? What is it that you are yearning for? That is your intention – keep it simple, be open to what arises, be gentle about the process and the outcome.

Create comfortable space for your personal retreat at home

Create sacred space: This essentially means withdrawing from daily life. Turn off your phone, lock yourself in a room with a do not disturb sign on the door – do whatever you can to ensure that you will not be disturbed or forced to engage in day-to-day activities while you’re on a retreat.

Design a small ritual that will act as a signal to your mind that you’re entering sacred space. This can be as simple as lighting a candle and taking a few deep breaths. Or make yourself a cup of tea, but create a ritual around it. Use a special cup, if you have a rarely used teapot that you love, bring that out. Make a different tea {jasmine tea instead of your regular tea with milk, for example}, and listen to some soothing music as you quietly sip your brew.

Listen to the voice of your soul: Remain within the sacred space you have just created and listen to your inner voice. What are you hearing? There are many ways to listen – you can:

create a set of journaling questions based on your intention

move to some music {this isn’t your everyday music, though – look for drumming or Celtic music, something that speaks to you at heart level} and see what bubbles up to the surface

meditate on your question – be sure to keep a journal handy so you can write down your experiences immediately

use Oracle or Tarot cards to really dig deep – you will be surprised by the wisdom that these tools can help you uncover.

Step back into your life: Take some time to close your retreat. You can record why you went on retreat, what you achieved there, and what you will remember as you step back into the world. Create a little statement out of it, something along the lines of “I will remember…..” and repeat that to yourself once you’ve stepped back, so that you don’t forget what you learnt on the retreat.

I invite you to start thinking about how you will create and design a retreat for yourself. It can be a powerful experience, so I do hope you will give it a try. In case you feel like you aren’t up to actually designing a personal retreat for yourself, don’t worry – I’ve got your back! Here’s a one-hour personal retreat plan that you can do at home.

But before you go, tell me: Have you ever been on a retreat? Has this post got you intrigued and wanting to go on a retreat?

Posted in Soulful living and tagged , , , .

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. I want to go on a retreat! It’s like a mental staycation. I love this idea of making a decision to set down the phone, step away from everyone, and drink my coffee in silence.

  2. I would love to go on a retreat and have actually booked a one day yoga retreat for April this year. I love your ideas for having a personal retreat at home. This year I’ve created some new morning and evening rituals to bring calm and positivity to my life and they seem to be working. Saw your post at #mg link up. Loved it! Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond.

    • Oh, that yoga retreat sounds fabulous! Morning and evening rituals are also very helpful to calm you down, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. I would love to go on a weekend retreat all by myself, may have to wait till the the kids are older though. Till then I will continue getting up early so I can enjoy some quiet time all to myself before everyone else gets up.

  4. Now that I have read this post, I really want to go on a retreat. No worries about going to work in fact no worries at all. Sounds like a really good idea! I am going to try to go on one.

  5. This reminded me of the Vipassana retreat that I went for last year. I loved your step by step guide to experience some real ‘me-time’ to introspect. Practicing this daily would do so much good for ourselves and our growth. Thanks for sharing, Shinjini.

    • You’re so welcome! I’ve heard some good things about the Vipassana retreat – though I’m not sure if I can manage 7 days of silence without books!

  6. This reminded me of the Vipassana retreat that I went for, last year. Loved your step by step guide to experience some real “me-time’ to introspect. Practicing this daily can do a world of good for our inner self and personal growth. Thanks for sharing, Shinjini 🙂

  7. I love the idea!! I think the time we spend in ‘me time’ or alone time serves this purpose and energizes us. Lovely idea of creating a dedicated space, will try it. Thanks.

  8. This is such a great idea! My business partner and I were just talking about doing a business retreat for the both of us which I think we could def adopt your tips for. Thank you so much for a great post!

  9. I actually really need this tonight. I have had a really tough week emotionally, and with people staying with us I have been feeling like I have had no space to escape. I really need to make some time for me, thank you xx #mg

  10. From my experience I can tell its importance, because I always go for my kind of retreat.
    Sonetimes when I come from hospital or on weekends, I just switched off my mobile, taking a book or a newspaper and goes on binge reading for the whole day and not thinking about any thing, it gives me immence pleasure and calmness.
    However, from this post i have a good idea to go on a retreat for any specific purpose.

Leave a Reply