We are in a time right now where the world has slowed down, and many of us are on a government-enforced lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and it’s pandemic status.
There is no denying that compared to the fast-paced, busy lives many of us lead as a part of this modern society, quarantine almost feels like jail time. For many, the idea of being confined to their home for weeks on end feels like they are on personal arrest or is the stuff of their own worst nightmare.
But here at Unconventional Life, we see opportunities, not problems, and want to help our readers see what a blessing this downtime truly is.
We caught up with Asya Azar – creator, writer, entrepreneur, and creator of solo retreats where individuals design their own unique experiences around virtually every niche from lifestyle and self-development to book writing – to talk about how to get the most out of your mandatory quarantine. To not just survive, but thrive through our abundance of alone time and social distance.
Yes, it can feel like quarantine is the equivalent of being sent to your room to think about what you’ve done – “because it’s not natural, because it’s been enforced on us, a lot of people are freaking out.” but Asya believes it’s so important to look at the silver lining in this situation, “Yes we’re being forced and it feels strange but there is such opportunity here!”
“I wanna remind people, this is what we’ve been waiting for in a way… time off. Everyone craves a week off for themselves to go inward and finally write that book… or whatever it is.”
So what is it that you’ve been craving the time to do, but haven’t had the time because you’ve been ‘too busy’ with work, or life, or socializing, or whatever else your life was filled up with before the pandemic happened?
Here are a few steps to turn your quarantine into your own unique solo retreat experience, focused around just that!
Decide the duration of your retreat, the “what” and the “why”
The first step is to design your retreat – lay out the structure of it, the time frame, the ‘what’ it’s about and the ‘why’ you are doing it.
In terms of length, Asya believes that “even a 3 hour fully baked retreat can be such a gift to yourself” and that you don’t have to spend the entire of your quarantine period in your solo retreat. How long do you think you’d be able to commit to doing this retreat for? How long would you need to fully immerse yourself in the ‘what’ of the retreat? Would the retreat last all day every day, or would it be certain hours of the day? What sort of activities would it involve?
“Having the structure in some ways makes it more real… be fluid with your structure, but do design one”
If you’re struggling coming up with ideas of ‘what’ your retreat will be about, or what activities to include, create a list of things that you always want to find the time to do but haven’t previously been able to find to do. Some ideas might be: writing your novel, designing your website, songwriting, going inwards in prolonged silent meditation, yoga or home workouts, self pleasure, self inquiry. This is your retreat, so it can be about anything you are passionate about!
Asya wants to stress that the ‘why’ is just as important as the ‘what’ because it will be what allows you “to come back to that compass of why am I doing this retreat” when your endurance, discipline or interest is fading after time. What was the reason you wanted to do this particular retreat? What is a tangible metric or a measurable goal at the end of the retreat? Write it down!
Set clear parameters for how much time you’ll spend going inwards and being by yourself and how much you’ll be carving out for social time.
The most common thing we’ve been hearing about one of the main concerns of self-imposed quarantine (or government-imposed) is the fear that most people have of being alone with their thoughts for prolonged periods of time. Asya says “just know you’re not alone in that, it’s a natural concern… there’s this complete stillness and darkness and people are afraid of that.”
But there is so much to be gained from the solitude, “there might be diamonds inside of you because you haven’t just had a moment or a day to just sit with yourself” so it is crucial to overcome this fear. One way of helping you do that is to have clearly defined or structured periods of time in which you’ll go into solitude (shutting yourself off from social media or contact with the outside world). In these periods, you fully commit to going within as “that place of stillness is a place we can be reborn.”
Outside of these parameters, you are free to aimlessly scroll on social media, hang out with loved ones or get on as many Skype calls as your heart desires.
Think of some ways to document your progress or remain accountable throughout
One helpful way to keep up with your retreat and not get bored and drop the ball is finding a way to either share your progress or remain accountable throughout the duration. This might be by sharing the products of your retreat each day (if it’s a creative retreat, such as songwriting) or your reflections (if it’s a more mental retreat) with close friends, or even on social media if you are comfortable with doing so. If you don’t want to share, keep a journal or document your progress through photos or some other tangible way.
You could also decide to have an accountability buddy who you do this retreat with (separately, of course) and come together to report back at an allotted time every day.
We want to remind you that quarantine doesn’t have to suck and that this forced ‘break’ can do wonders for you if you choose to let it.
Happy quarantine life!
Have any questions for Asya? You can connect with her through her Instagram.