Posted by Karen in Personal Development

The Power of Simplicity

As you read this blog, I will be on the final month of a 3-month mindfulness and meditation retreat in Spain.

One aspect of the retreat that excited me most was the chance to lead a simple life for an extended period. I’ve had a ‘taster’ once before (when I spent 2 weeks in a secluded hut in Scotland (see earlier blog Why Less is More)) and loved it, so an opportunity to strip away the day to day layers of life’s complexity and demands for 3-months evoked a strong sense of freedom in me. It felt exhilarating.

Letting go

As someone who likes structure (I’m very well organised and strive to make the most of every available moment), this retreat felt an important thing for me to do. I could practice letting go, loosen my grip on making day-to-day life and work happen and of needing things to be a certain way. 

When I made the decision to let go of things, there was a sense of liberation – so much structure can begin to feel constraining, stifling.

Simple, yet so satisfying

By simplifying life – stripping away some layers of distraction such as the things we do, 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.

Less is more

Less is more. Where life and society may suggest the opposite – does more make us happier?

During my retreat, I hoping that living simply will:

– strip away the complexity of daily life, the structure and routines – including the constant flow of information, hours behind my computer, work, relationships, responsibilities, commitments …

– give me a chance to truly slow down, to become more intimate with my experience, to be with whatever arises in my thoughts and feelings moment to moment.

– Offer long periods of silence within my community of fellow retreat participants – to further simplify life by stripping away words

– Give me the chance to roam the mountains and take in the stunning natural surrounds of the retreat centre (with a whistle in my pocket in case I lose my way – that too excites me; I have an adventurous streak in me)

But of course, you don’t have to go on a long retreat to experience simplicity – we can simplify our life wherever we are.

Try this reflection exercise. There are no right or wrong answers here, it’s about what you want from your life and whether or not you are you getting it:

On a scale of 1-10 how complex / busy does your life feel?

– What are some things you possess that you don’t need any more and could let go of (perhaps give away)?

– Do you have any activities that you have been engaged in for some time and no longer wish to continue? For example, going out on a regular basis with colleagues after work or watching box sets several evenings a week etc.

– How much time do you spend online? Be honest here. Roughly add up the hours per week. I spend about three hours online per day.

– Who do you spend time with? Are these all people you want to spend time with? Do you feel energised by all your friendships or do some of them drain you? Not an easy question to ask ourselves but worthwhile. I now enjoy having less friends but deeper, closer, more fulfilling friendships.

– How much ‘me-time’ do you allow yourself each week? Time to potter, to have a bath, relax uninterrupted with a book, take up sport or running, read the weekend papers and an extended cuppa, go for a walk on your own in your local park or in the countryside?

Let me know how you get on, reflection exercises can be very powerful. While I am away, my colleague Claire Martin is looking after any inquiries and bookings. So do continue to email and she’ll be happy to respond to you.

Warm wishes, Karen

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