Simple living is
not only about using less of the world's resources and being 'green' and
environmentally responsible. It is also about finding a deeper, more satisfying
inner life and finding joy and delight in everyday things.
We all tend to
carry a lot of 'thought baggage' around with us. Worries, preoccupations,
plans, reminiscences, rehearsals, puzzles, nostalgia, problematical issues,
lists…there is no end to the mental junk that can rattle around in one's head
in every waking moment. As I have explained in The Lilypad List, it can be very helpful to put this burden down
sometimes, and rest. Because when we do, the world can suddenly become a lot
clearer, fresher and brighter and we can discover new forms of delight. Just
listening to a bird, walking barefoot on the beach, observing a baby, savouring
a cup of coffee, sitting in a sidewalk café watching the passers-by…so many
things can fill us with pleasure once our busy, restless minds have slowed
I call this
process having a 'time-out experience' (TOE). There are many ways of creating
one of these. Here are just a few suggestions:
• Go on a one-week media fast
To do this, for
seven days watch no TV, read no newspapers, read no magazines. Stay away from
online news sources. For one whole week, take absolutely no notice of what is
happening out there in the world.
• Take time off work and go on retreat
You can either
go to a retreat centre, create a retreat-style holiday or even design your own retreat
• Go on a pilgrimage
You don't have
to go all the way to Santiago de Compostela or even to follow one of the
traditional pilgrimage routes. Any destination can serve as the focal point of
a pilgrimage. Long-distance trails are ideal for this type of TOE and since
they are usually described in sections you can pick a section that suits in
terms of distance and the amount of time it will take to walk it. Even a short
walk can be turned into a pilgrimage.
• Go swimming
Find a swimming
pool with lanes marked and swim as many slow, steady laps as your fitness level
will allow. As you swim, focus only on the rhythm of your swimming until, after
a while, busy thoughts begin to drop away.
• Weed the garden
As you pull out
weeds, weed out all the persistent and unnecessary thoughts that are buzzing
around in your mind and focus, instead, on the sounds and smells of the garden
and the feeling of having your hands in the earth.
• Read my stories about two special moments: 'The Delphi Moment' and 'The Fruit & Veggie Moment' …
Since outer simplicity and inner simplicity are inextricably entwined, you will find a lot more about inner simplicity in the book. I hope you'll read it.
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