Returning to routine

Posted by Karen in Personal Development

A break from the life’s routine – a week or two away – is great for clearing headspace and getting back in touch with oneself.

Mindfulness retreat greenspace coaching and mindfulness

I was fortunate to be able to take things even further, to experience one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself, a 3-month retreat in rural southwest Spain, so very much removed from my life here in London.

Three months away – now back!

I am still in the process of transitioning from the spacious, quiet and simple living to my full life here in London – the different rhythm, colours, sounds and smells.

There was a lovely familiarity to things when I returned – home, family, friends, our cat, the shops and soundscape of where I live – it was almost as though no time had passed – and yet, I’ve experienced so much in these past 3 months that I have changed. A subtle change – one friends notice but can’t quite put their finger on!

That’s because what’s different is how I feel in myself. I feel much more centred, grounded (as if I was glued to the ground). I feel expansive with a much deeper and broader perspective of myself and life. I feel still.

I also have a huge sense of freedom and excitement. I feel more able to commit to the unknown without feeling fearful about what might or might not happen. I’m ready to put my trust in the endless possibilities of a meaningful life. It’s good. What’s more, others have already started benefiting from my experience. I have learned so much and I have more to give.

Before I go on to share some of the themes we practised during the retreat, if you haven’t yet, and are curious about how life coaching might help you to find out what you really want from life, please get in touch and take advantage of a free initial coaching conversation with me. Remember, we’ve only got this one shot at life.

Awareness, community, loving kindness and simplicity

These four ingredients summarise perfectly what we practiced together and individually during the 3 months.

Awareness or mindfulness – gaining a richer and more satisfying experience of the present

With all the layers of busyness stripped away (work, e-devices, social media, news), I found myself in very conducive conditions to become more aware of and intimate with my own experience – my likes and dislikes, opinions, views, judgements of myself and others, biases – and to realise that whatever I experience is not fixed or permanent, it arises and passes away, it changes all of the time. This helped me to loosen some of my limiting views – ‘how things should be’ – and brought a sense of freedom and release.

I also gained an awareness of others – we were 26 in total, all different ages, cultures and backgrounds, and of the natural beauty around us, the different landscape, animals and climate.

The more I became aware, the more I could see, feel, smell, taste – the richer, more satisfying and content my experience of life became.

Community – moving beyond a sense of self and your own preferences

Mindfulness retreat greenspace coaching and mindfulness

Peñarroya De Tastavíns, Aragon, Spain.

Living in community is, in my opinion, one of the most meaningful and satisfying things in life. We are not solitary creatures. Until our modern way of living started (only about 150 years ago), we used to live in close knitted communities and families. We are all interconnected and long for love, deep connection, meaningful communication and support (listening, sharing, practical help).

It wasn’t always easy, on the retreat, living as a community. We all had different ideas about how to do our daily jobs (we had a daily task rota for communal meals and keeping the centre tidy and beautiful), but that was exactly how we created community, by practicing daily to stay open to each other and to let go of ‘my way’ of doing things, to move beyond my preferences, and to notice how liberating it could feel.

Loving-kindness – making our day to day life not just about ‘me’

Loving-kindness – sounds so fluffy, doesn’t it? What do we actually mean by it? Loving-kindness arises between individuals when we stay present to our experience, whatever it is (versus pushing it away, not liking it and withdrawing internally and/or externally, i.e. walking away) with an open, warm and loving heart.

When we make our day-to-day life not just about ‘ME’, (What about me? What’s in it for me? What do others think about me?), and we can include others, notice their needs and spot opportunities to help and be kind: taking dirty dishes to the kitchen (not just our own), carrying buckets of water for those who couldn’t carry them, doing an extra washing-up shift for someone who didn’t feel well, keeping our antenna open to others, making time for each other to talk, to listen, to share ourselves or to reach out to someone even if we didn’t feel like it, to keep in eye contact during silent periods…

Simplicity – how much do you really need to experience contentment

Simplicity is one of my favourite topics (see previous blogs) because living simply is what fosters and makes possible all of the above.

Simplicity always reminds me of how little I actually need to be truly content – everything else is just cravings and desires for things that I think make me happy but never do.

I hope that this blog has given you some food for thought. I’ll leave you with this lovely story:

Time to think

Thomas Edison was a genius who invented the phonograph, the motion picture camera and the electric light bulb. But he was also a terrible fisherman. He used to spend an hour almost every day fishing but he never caught a fish.

If you are wondering why a genius would be obsessed with fishing when he was so bad at it, you are not the only one. Someone once asked him why he was such a poor fisherman. He replied: “I never catch any fish because I never use any bait.”

When they asked him why he’d fish without bait, he responded, “Because when you fish without bait, people don’t bother you, and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.”

Try this: Practice regularly setting aside time for yourself to do nothing. Put time in your calendar for committed, quiet, creative time. Practice making this time as important as a meeting with a client. I regularly spend time in nature doing nothing. That’s where I have my best ideas, always.

With warm wishes


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