I recently managed to take a break from working and travelled to Scotland, a place I have never actually been before but will definitely return to many more times. It is quite simply a beautiful and majestic place to spend some time when one is seeking rejuvenation and recuperation
It was only 1 week (hindsight tells me it should have been 3 weeks) but in that week I discovered and reconnected to 3 keys things about what helps me rest, play and find peace which I knew but somehow didn’t really acknowledge or pay attention to enough to do something about them over the last 18 months.
Each day was gifted with a view across Loch Fyne (Scotlands longest sea loch) as we had rented a cottage, which resided on its banks and it had private access to the Loch where we wild swam (with and without wetsuits – it was cold, but not as cold as I had expected), paddleboarded, watched dolphins, bird watched, enjoyed sunsets and simply absorbed the wonderful scenery which seemed to constantly change and shift with every glance.
My first reconnection was to Restfulness.
I knew I was tired and needed rest, but somehow I had forgotten and lost touch with what restfulness really meant to me and how I could find it. Over the last 18 months or so, I hadn’t really experienced prolonged periods of rest, I may have had periods of time when I wasn’t working but not really resting.
What I learnt restfulness really looks like and what really works for me is being in and close to the sea/water, spending time by myself, day dreaming, sitting still and quietly and being in and close to nature. What was fortunate about this holiday was I could access all of these things in the same place at the same time, without even travelling anywhere. I experienced a restfulness I have literally never experienced before. Now I have, I know what it means for me when I need to rest and I can make more choices that create this moving forward (the idea of moving to Scotland did come up in conversation!!).
Side note: If you are interested in digging deeper about rest for yourself I can recommend “The art of rest by Claudia Hammond“
Secondly the reconnection I found was to Mindfulness.
I’ve been doing meditation for a while, often supported by my Headspace app and my shakti mat, however I found a stillness and peace in ways I had experienced or found successful before, an example being simply sitting still and watching the loch, however with a soft gaze. This softness allowed me to relax, focus on my breathing and this created a meditative state which felt more natural, more balanced and more energetic afterwards. One occasion I simply sat still for 2 hours listening to and softly watching the loch, the movement of the water, gently lapping on a rocky shore, the occasional flight of birds, the hum of bubblebees in the garden and the slowness of my breathing. The joy which emerged as a result of this was so energising and so powerful, I’ve tried a variation of this now I’m back home and have yet to replicate the same conditions or experience.
Thirdly and lastly I reconnected to Playfulness.
The last 18 months for me personally have had a big absence of “play” and in ways that allow me to simply lean into joy, laughter and connection. The result of which led to some significant personal challenges around my mental health. I had been doing physical activities and doing things I enjoyed before, but not enough of, however in this week I discovered the simple joy of playing in and around the water. It was invigorating and I actually felt myself smiling and felt myself feeling happy and joyful. Until that moment, I simply didn’t realise it was really absent from my life in a way that nourishes.
Side note: If you are interested in learning more about play, I’d recommend watching Stuart Brown’s Ted Talk – he also has a book which I’d recommend to Play : how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul (you can get it at local or national bookstores)
My personal challenge and development moving forward is to rethink what I do, how I do it and who I do it with. I also need to find, explore and then sustain a pattern and system of connecting to these three fulness’s that allow me to feel the physical and mental health benefits.
What do you think? what are you learning or have learnt?