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Sunday 14 December 2014

Sometimes It's OK To Do Nothing

Holwell, the quietest place I've ever been
'I can't. I'm busy.' I find myself saying this on a daily basis whether it's true or not. Nine times out of 10 it's true but if I tried I could reschedule, de-prioritise and end up not doing it if I really didn't want to; trouble is I am the kind of person who is always doing something - never nothing. On this blog I only record a 1/4 of what I get up to. I have countless posts piled up waiting to be published but most will never see the light of day - like weekends in Sweden, Malta and France and even a last minute seven day trip to Kenya (though hopefully that one will surface at some point), as well as craft workshops, social events, life experiences, dos and celebrations, even recipes...
There's so many things I do that I then want to write about but these days I can barely keep up with the writing I need to do for my day job, let alone get a chance to write for pleasure. So the idea of doing nothing just doesn't apply, I mean how can I do nothing when I have so much to do?
The only sound I heard other than crow cries was the squeak of this sign in the breeze
This weekend an opportunity struck and I decided to give in and give it a go: Do Nothing. I checked into Middle Piccadilly a Rural Spa Retreat in Dorset where 'doing nothing' is the preferred way of life. There are no distractions (wi-fi or internet - even my 3G was down), no TV, no radio - not even any newspapers to remind you of the stresses of the world.)
Accommodation is in a restored 17th century cottage and food is served fresh, vegetarian and healthy. The only souls you'll speak to are your therapists - massages, wraps, spa treatments are all part of the pampering, nurturing and relaxing experience. Other than turning up to the kitchen at mealtimes or being ready for your spa sessions there is nothing else to do.
There was a choice of a Detox liquid diet, raw food or vegetarian but I went for  a mix of all three
So what does one do when faced with the ultimate in Me Time? Being in the countryside and with two days of gorgeous, bright, crisp, winter weather led me to embark on three walks around what can only be described as the quietest place I have been to in my whole life (admittedly the route was called Peaceful Lane.) Even the wildlife (aka sheep) barely made a sound. I encountered few humans, few dogs and hardly any cars just endless trees, greenery and farmland.
Peaceful Lane is an understatement - it really was the calmest place I've ever walked
The retreat is popular with stressed out female Londoners - it is literally the opposite in every aspect of what goes on in the capital city. Yet faced with such peace and serenity doesn't necessarily make it easy to switch off. Initially I struggled I just wasn't sure how to fill 'nothing'. Many people come here simply to sleep; at first this seemed wrong, but the truth is I rarely get enough sleep.
In an ideal world there wouldn't be a need to escape to the country in desperate need of rest and re-cooperation but the truth is very few of us would put aside a weekend, detach from technology and mod-cons and make 'Me Time' at home.
Ok...I didn't go as far as playing Solitaire but I drink lots of detox teas
Yet here in the middle of no where it makes more sense. I didn't escape modernity completely (I took photos on my phone for a start!) but I did sit down, look at nature, attempt to meditate and take time doing things. Where normally I wash my face really quickly on autopilot I took time to massage my face wash into my skin and instead of gulping down a cuppa while moving between three rooms, packing for working and doing my make-up, I sat down held my tea until it cooled and drunk it until the mug was finished.
There are so few people around that all the sheep were staring at me!
How do I feel after living in slow-mo for two days? I wouldn't say I felt different or like a new person, maybe two days isn't enough for such as transformation but I did realise that it is OK to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. Whether or not I can 'afford' to give myself another weekend off is another matter but I do think that in an ideal world once a moth switching off from life, tech, stress, and just focussing on the moment - eating, breathing, living has health benefits that are priceless.
When you don't need to rush you really do spot the beauty in nature
Whether you check into a retreat like Middle Piccadilly for few days or are able to recreate a similar experience at home: 'doing nothing' is underrated and should be indulged in every now and again by everyone. With the Xmas holidays and new year around the corner, I dare you to give it a go.
I spent two day at Middle Piccadilly, checking in Friday at 4pm and stayed until Sunday 2pm. All meals were included and the retreat is located a 15min taxi ride from Sherbourne station, which is accessible from London Waterloo. Prices vary according to packages, mine was booked through Wellbeing Escapes and included three treatments - two massages and a mud wrap.
(I wrote this blog on the train back - I imagined myself writing in the evenings but my laptop remained in my suitcase! Two hours to kill on the train home however isn't that interesting so I decided to do something!)

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