To become your own counselor you will be filling your life and thoughts with wisdom from God instead of allowing others to control your life and define you. This is not complicated but, just like living in recovery, it isn’t easy either. I found God’s wisdom for me in the program of AA. Specifically, I found it by listening to the people around the tables, by reading the AA book, my Bible, works by spiritual writers and by praying. This series on retreating was inspired by my own experience with how God worked in my life and in the life of several friends while on retreat.
See to it that your relationship with Him is right and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. ~ AA p 164
Spiritual readings. If you have a favorite spiritual author like CS Lewis, Henry Nouwen or Thomas Merton, pack a few books. I discovered some of my favorites by perusing the libraries of retreat spots. One of my friends found her life-changing author the same way. I would avoid workbooks because you want to discover what God has to say, as opposed to filling in the blanks. That’s why you’re being your own counselor. This is the exciting part! He will provide direction.
Slow down the mind. I like to color with pencils, so I pack a coloring tablet and my pencils. I can listen to God while I color. Keeps my mind on Him, not on the thoughts squawking around in my head like seagulls. I list my prayer requests in this tablet because I often find that He brings someone to mind while I color. Some people knit or do a small craft project. Just be careful to keep the goal of listening to God in mind. Productivity is a no-no. When you feel like you should be busy, plan to lie down until the feeling passes! Take naps.
Explore Solitude. Being still is difficult at first. It takes practice. Expect discomfort and distraction. Don’t become intense over the process. Relax and it eventually comes. You will find that you want to run errands, make phone calls, anything but be still. I suggest walking if your retreat has grounds that let you explore. If not, pace your room for a bit and wear off the excess. Don’t give in to the panic. This isn’t about perfection but about being present to God.
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. ~ AA p 25