Along with daily practice, Buddhism recommends taking time off for a longer and deeper experience of meditation. Of course, every meditation session is a form of retreat; you are stepping out of your normal activities to be alone with your mind, body, and breath. But a longer retreat—a week, a weekend, or just a full day—offers you the opportunity to spend some real quality time with your mind.
It won’t always be fun. Without your usual entertainments and activities to distract you, you will be left alone with your mind, including both its wisdom and calm and its speed and confusion. You may be a bit shocked at first by what you see, but if you adopt a friendly and kind attitude toward yourself—and maybe a bit of humor—you will gradually settle down and enjoy the meditative experience of being grounded, open, and awake. Many Buddhist and other spiritual centers offer retreats and opportunities for longer practice to nonmembers. Or you can just set aside a day or weekend at home, turn off the phone and the Internet, and spend some quality time alone. There’s no better way to make friends with your mind.