When is the right time to do something you’ve always wanted to do?
Last April, I spent two weeks in the Scottish Highlands, away from it all – offline and in the pleasure of just my own company (and that stunning scenery). It was one of the most fulfilling, restorative and peaceful experiences I’ve ever had (Living simply: Why less is more).
For some time, I’ve been nurturing a seed of ambition to take a more extended period of time out, and I can’t quite believe it’s actually going to happen. I’m taking a sabbatical.
From April to July, I’ll be on a 3-month mindfulness and meditation retreat in the Spanish mountains, south-west of Barcelona. For so long it felt unthinkable, un-doable. How on earth could I just walk from all my commitments, my business – all that I have built up?
However, since I made the decision to go, I feel clarity and determination in my heart and mind, as well as contentment. I find myself bubbling with excitement, thinking “Yes! This is what I am going to do”.
We will be twenty-one participants from around the world, led by five experienced practitioners. The retreat centre is located in a beautiful, remote, natural environment and is run sustainably: water comes from a well and rain, food is sourced locally, all detergents are environmentally friendly.
We will live simply, as a community, with respect for and appreciation of one another and nature, using as little resources as possible (we will each be given one bucket of water a day to wash, and assigned daily work from cooking, cleaning to washing up).
I have decided to live in a tent for the duration – I want to make best use of this unique opportunity to immerse myself in nature. The mere thought of it makes my heart sing.
Living as one
Together we will build community. We will meditate together, have silent periods for up to two weeks and study together – reflecting on themes like the inter-connectedness of all living beings, the impermanence of all things (that everything changes all of the time) and the theme of insubstantiality (that nothing is fixed or solid, that all life is in process, arising and passing away).
There will be no screens to be distracted by, no phone calls or emails for three months. What a relief!
In stripping away the layers of busyness – in simplifying life – we can begin to lift the veil of mental clutter and see things more for what they really are. Herein lies freedom.
Away from distractions, commitments and input, we can experience ourselves and our life more fully, we can (re)-discover what really matters to us, particularly the small things. We can take a fresh perspective, see a little further into our life, discover new avenues, things we want to cherish more, things we want to change.
Allowing myself this unique gift
Coming to this decision and giving myself this gift of taking time out has not been an easy journey for me. My fears haunted my decision making. Fear of losing my livelihood, fear of losing my clients, fear of what people might think of me doing such an unusual (maybe odd) thing, fear of it not being the right moment – when is it ever the right moment?
As soon as I started listening to my fears and reassuring my fears, I calmed down and I could see that this was what I wanted to do.
Journey with me
While I am away, you will continue to hear from me in a monthly blog reflecting on some of the major themes of the retreat. I will be writing these blogs in the run up of my departure and my colleague Claire will be sharing them with you.
So, watch this space!
As always, do drop me a line if you’d like to have a chat or take up a free 30-minute coaching taster session in nature.
And lastly, if you are wondering, why a retreat and not a trip around the world or to a Caribbean beach doing nothing? This retreat is a way of nourishing my heart and mind by slowing down, by living simply, eating well, reflecting, finding out about myself – how I relate to others, and being close to nature. It’s an opportunity to live fully, to take perspective and to grow. And when I do, I always have more to offer to others and the world too.