Simplifying our life: why less is more
21 Apr 2017 | Karen Liebenguth
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.
"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
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.
"We don't have to be in solitude to
experience simplicity - we can simplify our life wherever we
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
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
- 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
- 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?
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