Humans thrive on sociability, on connecting and communicating. I live on an Island and I’m self-employed so I could be in danger of living in not so splendid isolation, except that I love people and I strive to keep my connections alive.
Connection to even one other creates our imprint
One evening we were rowing around the Island and a new neighbour spotted us drifting past the end of her garden. She hailed us over, brought us up onto her decking and welcomed us to her little corner of the world. People need each other and it takes little to reach out and connect.
Planes and social media keep us connected across the globe. When filming in the Gambia for a children’s charity we met an amazing woman Ali Criado-Perez who works for Medecins Sans Frontieres. We kept in touch and when she posted Blogs from Africa during the Ebola crisis our connection to the plight of people on another continent was deepened, our understanding of their tragedy kept all the more alive. Everyday I connect with new people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or monthly at Fabulous Women Networking events. and relish the inspiring anecdotes, stories and quotes shared.
Threads join person to person across continents
Friendship and connection are as vital as the air we breathe, so much so that Social Skills Therapy is offered to those suffering from the isolation of mental health issues. When we filmed soldiers for our feature documentary A Brutal Peace, we discovered a critical part of their post-war survival is to meet regularly through the charity Combat Stress to help each other roll with the punches of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Without the camaraderie of shared stories over a pint by the bonfire, these men would fade into the recesses of unbearable memories and suffering.
We also need to be able to be alone without feeling lonely, and the ability to do this comes from knowing that somewhere, out there, there are people who we care about, who care about us. And so when I sit on my Island in London I feel the invisible threads reaching outwards to all those thousands of people I have ever met in person or online and I celebrate whatever methods of communication that allow me to do that.
Feeling disconnected? Why not connect with me for a short course of life coaching sessions and together we can find a way forward. Or follow me on twitter @createlab or Instagram create_lab
Hustle and bustle, stress on hyper-drive, modern life is like speeding down the fast lane with no brakes. Early starts, no lunch breaks, working late, always online, in touch, on call. We no longer seem to have a switch off button or a do not disturb sign.
Whirring brains need downtime or they burn out, as so many people will testify, when they lie on someone’s couch recounting the collapse of their life. They find themselves in a cul de sac, a dead end that no amount of self-flagellation to battle on, can save them from. Our bodies have a tendency to tell us when it’s time to stop, although we sometimes we wish they’d brought up the subject earlier.
So, applying the brakes before we pitch off the edge of the cliff clearly seems to be a sensible idea. So what are the options? I experienced a yogic retreat by accident once. I was filming in India and one of our missions was to film in a Yogic Ashram. After 24 hours of travel via trains and a jeep across the most dangerous State in India, we arrived at a set of huge iron gates. They swung open and we entered an oasis of gardens, tropical plants and dreamy looking swami wafting about in bare feet and white robes.
We were greeted warmly but told we wouldn’t be allowed to film after all. We were stumped. We’d filled in the prerequisite forms in Delhi, been granted the correct permissions, and now we were being told it was not possible. No explanation, just no. It was too late to catch a train to Calcutta so we were invited to stay the night which comprised of a wooden bunk, a toilet filled with mosquitoes the size of wasps, a dish of Dahl and no cutlery, a two hour chanting & meditation session and lights out at 8pm. Our companions were yogis, swamis and people who had paid to come here on a retreat to rid themselves of the impurities of modern life and the overstuffed baggage in their minds. It was not a choice I would have readily made.
The next morning we were told we could have an audience with the Chief Swami, to put forward our case to film. It was set for 3pm that afternoon so we had a few hours to kill before we could present ourselves. We wandered round the gardens, sat in the shade of trees, read books and very slowly we started to unwind. There was a sense of a weight lifting, our brains emptying, of peace and tranquility descending. After the razzmatazz of filming and travelling in India this sensation of letting go was gratifying.
By the time it was 3 o’clock, along with a trail of villagers bearing gifts, I approached the Chief Swami in a calm and accepting state of mind, on required bended knee and with kissing of his feet. He listened to our reasons for wanting to film there, shook his head and said “God would like you to come back and visit us and then he will allow filming.” Maybe my newly assumed yogic demeanor and aura of calm acceptance wasn’t completely convincing because when he looked at my face he quickly did an about turn “but there are exceptions to every decision and in this case God has changed his mind and has now decided to grant you permission.” We had ten minutes to film a yogi performing his postures by the Ganges as the sun started to set. As we raced to catch the last train and headed back to the chaos of Calcutta, despite the hiccups, I realized that I did feel reinvigorated, as if my brain had had the chance to reboot itself, ready to start again.
Assuming yogic calm
That’s a fairly extreme way to dip out of the hurry and rush of life but there are easier routes to restoration and respite. I am writing this from an idyllic little holiday cottage in Buckerfields Barn in Wiltshire, set in the picturesque gardens of Sonia Wright’s Plant Nursery. Just an hour and half from London and two nights away and I can already feel a sense of rest and renewal, ready to get back to work on Monday morning.
Change is good as good as a rest so why not find ways to give yourself a break.
Take ten minutes, sit upright in a chair and close your eyes, breathing deeply and slowly. It’s amazing what even ten minutes out of your day will do to calm your mind and restore your spirits
Find a local park and take a book to read in your lunch hour
If you live in the town, head out to the country and if you live in the country head into town, even for a day trip or a night or two.