How A Lock-down Can Be A Healthy Retreat

Updated: Mar 27


When I was a boy we loaded up our Caravan and drove from Chelsea Barracks in London to Wales. By the time we got to the campsite I was bursting with excitement. My sister and I were given £10 each (an impossibly large sum) and one of those tennis games where you whack a ball on a string and it spins around the pole. My world was complete. I had landed in heaven. With my money I bought comics and sweets- there was nowhere else I wanted to be. My Dad was happy and relaxed, my step-mum was cheerful. My sister and I were having the time of our lives. In my sleeping bag I shivered with the thrill of it all- I didn't want to go back to school. I didn't want this holiday to ever end.

Because of the Corona-virus, at any moment we might be forced into our houses. How can we make the most of this lockdown? Could it be a holiday? Could you use this time to connect with your children- with yourself. Retreats in Thailand and Peru are popular these days- there's always some one going on a yoga or plant-medicine adventure. As if to find yourself it's necessary to spend thousands of pounds, waft incense and chant something exotic.

Yoga means union or connection. And yes- we all crave connection. But why is it so hard to find it here- where we are now? Children more than anything, need connection with their parents- many tantrums, refusals: to go to bed, to tidy-up, to eat their dinner, or co-operate are a cry for connection. Children need to feel safe and loved- a gift that only your connection can offer.

One of my favourite teachers was a very busy man. He was the Emperor of the Roman Empire- and knew a thing or two about multi tasking. Constant war, intrigues, endless demands and meetings- in the midst of his mammoth work load- Marcus Aurelius wrote this advise for himself.

“Men seek retreats for themselves - in the country, by the sea, in the hills - and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite un-philosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind." ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Retreat into family life. Be held and supported by your home. Finally, because we must- we can stop rushing around. It might be uncomfortable at first-many of us are addicted to rushing- we race from one thing to the next. It can be hard to stop. But when we do- and when we accept that we're on retreat- in our home- we create space. We have an opportunity to connect- we can play with our children. Some of us may have forgotten how to play. Here's a few reminders. Remember- the aim of play is to connect- it's not a competition. A time boundary can help. Make it clear: "Ok Billy, we'll play banging pots and pans for 10 minutes. Then cards for ten minutes." Here's some suggestions for games.

(1) Dressing up. Put on costumes/wigs/make-up/clothes

(2) Listen to music and dance.

(3) Bake bread- animal shapes

(4) Tell stories- everybody has a turn.

(5) Water games. Fill bottles, buckets, containers- splash about

(6) Board games and cards

(7) Make a movie with a camera

(8)Make musical instruments- pots and pans

(9) Put up a tent in the house- indoor camping

(10) Rough and Tumble- wrestling

(11) Be silly- act out funny characters

(12) Hide and seek/chase games

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