"Looking back, I wish I had had more solo time this weekend,” the 16-year-old said. “I missed that.” His words during our closing circle were music to our ears. What struck us is that he missed it. He felt the value—the pull, even—of creating balance in his weekend retreat. We choose how we spend our time. Like breathing, we inhale and exhale. And when the flow is even, we're at ease.
On each retreat, we right ourselves with a mix of time alone, time with others, and time creating. It's worth the effort to strike a balance among these three areas; the people who do feel happy and grounded. When you are with them, you feel their comfort. You can’t help but be drawn to it.
Centering is the time we spend with ourselves, where we reset. And this looks different for each of us. While one person may long to journal or paint, another loves meandering solo runs, and someone else fuels her interests when she thumbs through vinyl records or takes in a matinee. No matter how social or reserved we usually feel, we're missing out on our wholeness if we overlook the value of being alone. It seems like the most natural form of exhale.When was the last time you belly laughed—so hard that you couldn’t catch your breath? Whether you lose yourself laughing with a group or in a deep conversation with a dear friend, connecting with others nourishes all of us. It's universally human. These connections fill us, and leave us wanting more. If you're craving more connection, reach out. You will be so glad you picked up the phone to get together.
Finally, we carve out time for creating to awaken a different part of our brain. The virtuous cycle stimulates our imagination. Some may say they don’t “do art.” But the creating we’re talking about can include almost anything that invites tinkering, be that with music, food, wood, or a garden. And we feel the impact of our creating long after the last note is plucked, the last nail driven.You may find yourself spending more of your time in one of these three areas. (A lot of us do.) And, like the 16-year-old boy, you probably know what's missing—because you feel out of balance, too. The great news? Regaining it is simple: Just shift how you choose to spend your time. It might feel labored at first. But once you’ve adjusted, it will feel like taking the long, deep breath you’ve been craving.