Four Seasons Retreat Guide

Four Seasons Days of Conscious Intention/by Sarah Amira De la Garza

Posted on Facebook’s  FourSeasons Ethnography on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 10:11pm

    For those who would like to try out a Four Seasons Retreat themselves, here is the model that I have used for my retreats for the last fifteen years. Feel free to try out yours and to write me with questions or to share your own experience with your retreat!

    How to start:

  • Select four days that occur at a time that is significant to you for some reason.
  • Be sure that you do not have any major obligations or duties on these four sequential days that would prevent you from emphasizing the Four Seasons conscious intentions.  If there is, select another four days.  Do NOT interrupt the four days to do other things.
  • Each day begins the evening before the day.  For instance, Days Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday would begin on Thursday evening and end Monday before sunset.
  • In general, try to avoid using the computer on this day–and Facebook is probably best avoided completely during the four days.

<span> </span>*  This allows for each day to have a “vigil” preceding the day’s events.

 

Day 1:  Spring–emphasis on cleaning, reflection, silence, and avoidance of any obligatory duties to others, and preferably is spent alone and in silence.  Best not to spend money–your energy and resources should be focused on purification of your life.  Best not to spend the time writing bills or working on duties for your regular job.  Reflect on your dreams, patterns, habits, disappointments, errors, goals, etc.  Select music that assists you in this.  If you exercise, select exercises that are known for their purifying potential–sweating, twisting…a massage or sauna is a good thing to do on this day.  During the ‘vigil,’ you can have a light purifying meal, read inspiring verses, meditate, journal using questions that emphasize the spring’s functions.Eat light or fast moderately.  Drink lots of water.

 

Day 2:  Summer–this day emphasizes “getting things done.”  what have you been putting off?  DO IT. You can pay bills this day, clean house, but be careful not to do work that takes you away from the reflection on summer.  For instance, probably not a good day to write a paper or review journal articles…or to have a meeting with others about a project.  The emphasis of these four days is for you to get a sense of how the seasons are operating in your life in general. A good way to spend the vigil for this day is planning the next day’s activities and then STICKING TO THEM.  Plan your meals. Journaling might be about your work patterns, about the relationships that interfere or contribute to your work, the things you want to accomplish.  Remember that during summer we “weed out” those things that are choking the crops, so to say.  So, setting priorities and eliminating tasks that get in the way of what you are wanting to accomplish are good things to do at this time.

 

Day 3:  Autumn–harvest/celebration…On this day, you want to celebrate things that are very special in your life, for which you have lots of gratitude.  It’s a good thing on the night of vigil to invite one or two special friends you want to express gratitude to, or with whom you can have a communal celebration.  Careful not to imbibe too much so that your celebratory day is not impared.  Going on a hike this day, to a museum or arts event,writing thank you notes to friends AND MAILING THEM (not e-mail).  You could rearrange furniture in a room to make it look like you want to, paint a wall, etc.  celebrate…and harvest for yourself what you have accomplished and what you have received–good themes for journaling.

 

Day 4:  Winter–Incubation, living off of what you have…this is a good day to spend alone again, and also in silence.  Try not to play music, but to reflect on what you’ve got to work on. On this day you CAN work on something creative that you’ve been putting off–writing, cooking food that you can freeze and have available when you don’t have time to cook, organizing your shelves, doing your laundry and getting the clothes ready for the coming week, etc. Journaling and reflection on the night of vigil should be reflective on what sort of activities best express winter for you .

 

In all instances, try to honor your word to yourself.  Notice through the four seasons/days which frames of mind are more ‘natural’ or ‘easy’for you–or which you feel rebellious or resistant towards. Notice any temptations to abandon a season/day, to go back on your word to yourself (i.e., “i said I would write five pages in a journal, but when I finished two, I stopped because I felt it was enough).  (or, said I’d spend it alone, but I kept answering my phone even when I said I would spend time reflecting and journaling)…

 

A good thing to do towards the end of the fourth day is to record your insights from this experience and reflect on what you have learned about how you work, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what keeps you from doing what you say you will, and what seems to be done effortlessly without any inner battle whatsoever.

 

What do you need to help you deal with certain “seasonal’ challenges?  People? A change of venue? An alteration in the nature of the work you do?

 

Write an intention letter to yourself and set the date for your next Four Seasons Days of Conscious Intention.

 

I find it best not to do this more than once a  year, and to avoid sharing the experience with others so that it becomes less reflective and more discursive.  you have to be able to listen to yourself…make room for this.

 

Some years your life shows you by its very openness or closedness some of the things that are arising.

 

Feel free to use this or to share with others, as long as it is properly referenced and you do not charge money for it.

 

Phoenix, Arizona

January 1, 2011

 

 

 

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