Switching off

Imagine: 4 weeks with no internet connection, no mobile phone connection, a landline that barely functions and sometimes not at all, far away from the crowd, with just silence and nature around… And I am wondering here what your first reaction is reading those few lines: horror, longing? Do you think you would love it or hate it? Have you maybe already tried it?

I try to have that for at least a couple of weeks every year and I find it keeps me sane! Last year though I did not have much of a chance to do it so I thought I would take double dose this year! And the last 12 months had been particularly full-on, busy, buzzy in every way, in a very good but full way. So at the beginning of August, I retired to my usual hide-out in the French countryside, an isolated family house, far away from any kind of civilisation (the nearest shop is 10 miles away), with only fields and more fields in the distance. Now, it is so isolated that there is absolutely no mobile connection and no internet connection possible. And as we had terrible thunderstorms for a few days, we were even without light and landline phone for 48 hours. It gave me time to rest (I slept about 11 hours per night most of the time!) and time to think…

The first thing I noticed was my state of mind and I was so intrigued I kept track for the first few days. On day 1, as I was still traveling there but my mobile phone had already let me down (a bad case of English phone resisting the French network), I found myself fidgeting, my heartbeat was quick, my head was still buzzing at 200 miles an hour with lots of ideas and reminders to myself of things to do. I kept looking at French mobile phone users with a strange mixture of scorn and envy. And as I was not busy myself with my own phone or laptop, I noticed that a vast majority of people were. Now, I know that and can see it around me anywhere, whether I am in London or in Paris but suddenly paying attention to it was strange and I realise we do look a bit weird all lost in our little world.

On day 2, as I was settling in and getting used to doing nothing (not something I am very familiar with), I noticed my brain calming down, I generally felt calmer and more peaceful. I was more aware of my surroundings, taking things at a slower pace. It still felt strange not to be reaching for the mobile phone or the computer to check something. As my mind was calming down, plenty of interesting ideas were coming up, very creative thoughts, good business ideas, answers to things I had been reflecting on for months.

On day 3, everything was calming down, I was not feeling the need to use any electronic device anymore. And when the landline went down that day, it felt like a relief. Nobody could find me!

From day 4, I just felt free as a bird, with a very calm mind. I realised I was more tired than I had first thought and let time and rest do their work.

Now, of course, I know all that and I teach all that constantly and I do make a point of taking breaks regularly. It is simply the only way to have a properly functioning brain and body. But for some reason, this time was even more significant than others. Maybe because of its length. And what I learnt in the process was not just confirmation of what I already knew but also that to let our true power, our true self appear, we need to take a step back regularly and just take time.

Taking time out is the key to letting ideas emerge, being creative, finding answers to important questions, making the right decision, writing or creating something. You need space and time for that, you need calm and to be able to get in touch with what is deep down inside. You cannot do that in the chaos of a busy schedule, squeezed in between 2 appointments.

I now feel stronger, more empowered, more at peace with myself, with a calm and clear mind, I feel I know what I want and I am going out there to get it!

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