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Simplifying our life: why less is more

21 Apr 2017 | Karen Liebenguth

Karen Pic 1

Less is more: a saying, like all sayings, that holds an important grain of truth.

In fact, I've just experienced its meaning during a wonderful two week retreat in the Scottish Highlands, away from it all - a full and busy life in London - offline and in the pleasure of just my own company (and that stunning scenery).

I have to say, it was one of the most fulfilling, restorative and peaceful experiences I've ever had.

My accommodation was simple yet offered everything I needed. An unassuming hut with a small kitchen, bed, easy chair, table, bathroom and a small area, perfect for yoga and meditation.

Upon arrival I switched off my phone and put it away. No emails, no calls, no news, no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for two weeks. It felt like a release, a relief.

The views across the loch and the mountains opposite my hut made me feel as if I was in the arms of nature. I loved the simplicity. I was also grateful for the opportunity to really experience what it means to live a more simple life - even if it was only for two weeks.

Karen Pic 2

"By simplifying our life, we can rediscover what really matters to us"

In stripping away the complexity of daily life, my routines and structure - the alarm clock wake up, the constant flow of information, work, relationships, responsibilities, commitments etc., I was able to truly slow down, to notice my experience - the type of thoughts that were going through my mind and how I was feeling. I was able to truly experience life moment to moment.

The freedom was exhilarating. I could do what I wanted.

As someone who likes structure, who is organised and who strives to make the most of every available moment, it was very important and liberating to let go - as so much structure can begin to feel constraining and stifling.

In my solitude, I would allow myself to go with the flow, to be spontaneous and playful. There was nobody else there I needed to take in, there wasn't anything in particular I had to do or anywhere I had to go. I was accountable for nothing and to nobody - for these 2 weeks.

As I settled into my retreat, a daily, natural and spontaneous rhythm emerged.

I'd wake early to the song of birds, make myself a cup of coffee and some toast and return to bed to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Beautiful. I would then read a little as my mind is clearest in the mornings.

After that I would give myself plenty of time to do yoga and meditation - this helped me to connect with my best self, it felt hugely beneficial and grounding. Then a little more reading or just sitting, lunch, a snooze followed by a long walk in nature.

I did a different walk every day. I noticed my adventurous streak and enjoyed its company. I'd look at the map and work out a new route - this was both stimulating and exciting - and would bring a real sense of achievement when I found my way back.

By then it was usually late afternoon - a wonderful time to just sit with a cup of tea and watch the light fading. Dinner, a bit more reading or meditation. Bed time. 

Simple, yet so satisfying.

Karen Pic 3

"We don't have to be in solitude to experience simplicity - we can simplify our life wherever we are"

By simplifying our life, by stripping away some layers of distraction, 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. Life and society today suggest the opposite - the more we have, and the happier we are. Take a moment to consider this - are we really happier?

We don't have to be in solitude to experience simplicity - we can simplify our life wherever we are.

Here are some questions for reflection (remember - 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?
  • What are some activities you have been engaging in for some time and don't want to engage in anymore? For example, going out on a regular basis with colleagues after work or watching TV 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 or drained by your friendships? 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, the papers and a cuppa?


Greenspace Coaching

Karen Liebenguth is a life coach and accredited mindfulness teacher. She offers 1:1 coaching while walking in Victoria park because she believes that it is in nature where insight, change and creativity can happen most naturally. Karen also offers mindfulness workshops and courses for the workplace to reduce stress and restore wellbeing.

For more information, visit: www.greenspacecoaching.com or drop Karen a line: karen@greenspacecoaching.com

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