A Jedi Gathering of One

The California Jedi Gathering begins tomorrow, with twelve Jedi (and Jedi friends) trekking into the Mountains for a weekend of fellowship and training. The Maryland Gathering begins the week after. For these Jedi, their coming weekends will be spent with friends who understand and support their path, and we will get to live and breathe Jedi. This is an incredible experience I recommend for all Jedi, newbies and veterans alike. It creates community, fosters discipline, and invigorates our paths.

But not all of us get to attend gatherings. Whether you are limited by money, distance, physical limitations or emotional difficulties, or time, it can be frustrating to miss out on these events or be left at home when your community comes together offline. Although it is hard to replace the in-person bonding that happens at Gatherings with anything else, it is possible to create a similar experience for yourself by blocking off a weekend, a day, or even a whole evening for a solo Jedi retreat.

But what would these retreats look like? What makes a gathering different than a meetup, or even a night spent working on Jedi things? I challenge you Jedi still at home (or all Jedi throughout the year!) to create small retreats for you to focus on your path.

Here are five things you can do to make the most of your Solo retreats:

  1. Make Time: Go two, three, four weeks into your calendar and find a weekend (or an evening, if you can’t find that much time) that is free. Block it off. Label it “Jedi Retreat!” or “THOU SHALT NOT SCHEDULE THINGS HERE”. Whatever works. This time is now off limits to other plans, adventures, etc. You’ve picked a date, congratulations!
  2. Make Space: Where are you going to have your retreat? Go camping in the woods, find a little B&B, or stay at home. Regardless of where you choose, make the space ready for your retreat. Pack up and do maintenance on your camping supplies, make all the arrangements for a place you rent, or clean and decorate your home in a way that will foster it into a space of spiritual focus and growth (buy some flowers or plants, make a little jedi altar or temporary meditation nook, fill the fridge with tasty healthy food).
  3. Make Plans: What is a Jedi Gathering without workshops? Pick a few things that you’d like to do during this retreat; try not to cram your days too full, and leave space for spontaneous needs, extra sleep, and eating mindfully. Maybe you’ve got books helpful to the path you’ve been putting off that you can start to read. Set aside an hour in the sun for journalling, sketching, and thinking about the past year. Schedule regular meditation throughout the day (how often do any of us get to meditate more than once a day!). Listen to music, go for a run or walk through a nearby park, do a yoga video in your living room. Whatever you do, make plans or goals so the time feels both relaxed and structured. This isn’t just vacation from your regular life, this is a spiritual retreat.
  4. Create Quiet: Spiritual retreats are almost always done far away from civilization, places without internet or phone service. Not all of us can make it up into the mountains or even leave our homes easily, so send civilization away. This is not to say you have to spend your weekend in solitude by any means, but put away the devices. Let people know you’re taking a break and then turn off your phone, unplug the internet. If you have to spend some time online set limits for yourself (chrome plugins like StayFocused can help if you’re worried about giving in to temptation). If you live with others and you are having your retreat at home, let them know you’re having a quiet weekend, and to try and not interrupt you if you seem to be meditating or focused if they can help it. Stressing about being interrupted or having others needing your time can’t always be avoided, but for just this evening or weekend, ditch the electronics and see what your friends, roomates, and significant others can do to help you create some peace and quiet for yourself.
  5. Be Present: These retreats are easier when you are in a new place and someone else has planned the workshops and events. It’s easy to zone out, sleep in lots, and ditch our Jedi plans, or perhaps worse, end up working, worrying, and stressing about taking the time off. Do a little meditation to open your retreat and set an intention for your time in this mental space. Whenever you feel like you’ve drifted from that intention or are not present with yourself, gently draw your attention back and refocus. Even if your whole weekend was spent redirecting your attention to your intention, you will have spent the weekend training.

What are some things you would do on a Solo retreat? Do you think you’ll participate in this in the next few weeks, or months? Let us know how it goes!

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