In war, it is a wise general, indeed, who realizes the value of retreat; for such action may spare uncounted lives from needless suffering or worse, horrific death. This is in direct opposition to the bullying cry of the ego, which often demands, “Push on, damn it, we have a war to win!” Only the awakened Spirit within is strong enough to resist the relentless commands of the ego.
What a dear price we pay—in health surrendered, lost relationships, and forfeited opportunities—when we suppress the truth of our Being.
If such is the case, there is often no wiser action than to retreat. But what do I mean?
In the case of personal retreat, I mean the action of giving ourselves the opportunity to remove the mask of our character, the “personal general” intent on winning. To retreat means to wisely choose to step back from the front-line battles in which we’re immersed (career, marriage, parenthood, education) and detach from our daily stresses. In this article, to permit ourselves retreat means to drop all that is related to the general and allow Beingness to Spirit to shine. How, though, do we step back from the world and the demands of daily living? The following suggestions point to a few ways:
- Meditate: Allow even a few minutes each day to have time in private, away from the demands of personal and professional stresses. Doing so is invaluable and will become a welcome relief.
- Nature: If possible, find a nature path, park, or nearby conservation area where you can get away from the hectic noise of city life. Observe how nature accomplishes its seeming tasks without being tormented by generals.
- Media: Although this may initially seem challenging, detach as much as possible from the constant bombardment from media. Remember that what is impressed upon the mind is having an effect, either favorable or unfavorable.
- Music: If music is a passion, make time to engage in expressing the notes that you have within you to play. Alternately, allow yourself a few minutes each day to listen to music that allows your soul to sing.
- Read: Read a book without any intention but to enjoy it. Leave study for another time.
- Break Free: Give yourself a break from routine, no matter how small. This might even involve just choosing a different parking space, eating a different type of meal, or selecting clothes of a different colour. Doing so will open you to opportunities and release you from the habitual tyranny of the general. Must you obey, or are you free to choose?
- Time: If time permits (and it always does when reconnecting with YOU is a priority), arise early and have a coffee or tea on the deck, balcony, or back stoop of your home. Alternately, stay up a little late and gaze toward the stars for inspiration.
- Walk: Even a few minutes spent walking (yes, even in the rain) can silence your general and help you reconnect with the wonderful inner world of Spirit.
Of course, everyone has different ways of detaching from the general intent on pushing us toward the battlefield. The most important point is to follow the call of our Spirit. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men [and women] lead lives of quiet desperation.” The majority of people might agree with his statement. Such needn’t be the case. We are alive with power within. Take charge, young Spirit, take charge!