I am not someone who spends much time just sitting still. Even at some of the most demanding times in my life - working in New York, flying between Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, London – when I was working hard, playing hard - the idea of slowing down or having a lie-in, or just being still, rarely felt like a good idea.
It’s usually my insatiable curiosity and drive that gets me out of bed, often with a jolt, every morning. The mantra of every day: “Go go go! So much to do and so little time”.
My friends and family have always understood this about me and accept me for it - being on the go is just part of being Phillipa. They never told me to ‘slow down’ or ‘chill out’. But it became clear, even to me, that living life in the fast lane was leading me down a path of certain self-destruction. It just wasn’t sustainable.
I realised that much of my motivation comes from my mischievous monkey mind and learning how to work with it, rather than trying to cope with it, has been life changing. Now, I no longer try to keep it behind bars, as it’s actually far more fun and effective to go adventuring with it! This led me out of the city and into the wilderness, where my chimp could roam free. In these wild spaces, I realised that tuning into all of my senses made me feel more alive than I’d ever felt before…thriving, rather than just surviving.
I can still summon up the total clarity I felt when I finally made the decision to fully reconnect with nature on a deeper level on a retreat in Spain with Way Of Nature. Just sitting still and ‘being’ … it was like my real ‘self’ had been awakened for the first time in 30 years. I suddenly connected with so many of Way of Nature founder John Milton’s teachings. Feeling like I was nothing and everything all at the same time was humbling to say the least.
That 24 hours ‘solo in nature’ in the Spanish wilderness gave me the support and courage I needed to remove myself from the corporate world I’d become so wedded to, and instead, let myself be guided by my heart and gut instinct to other avenues. This resulted in me starting up my own life coaching company. And I fully embraced the completely different lifestyle this entails.
Senses for self-care
Nowadays, I consider one of the best things about being a Life Coach and Change Agent, apart from witnessing breath taking transformation in the people I work with, is that I HAVE to be diligent in my self-care and personal development practices. Ain't no point in thinking I can be of any help to anyone if I’m coming apart at the seams, frayed around the edges or barely holding my sh*t together. For me it’s about finding ways to show up as my very best self in order to support others to do the same.
My evenings and weekends get booked up by my clients pretty quickly, so with self-care in mind, I am now careful to take a day 'off', and this is no longer restricted to weekends. Giving myself a day to re-boot is one of the best gifts I can give myself, and it’s truly essential.
The great outdoors
As I get more practised at listening to my mind and body, and feeding them what they need, I am realising that the things that nourish me the most are being outdoors, discovering new places, breathing fresh air, appreciating places with no artificial noise, getting my heart pumping by outdoors exercise, eating healthy food, meditating outside, snoozing outside, swimming outside, chatting outside – spot the pattern?!
On my most recent day ‘off’ I teamed up with a close friend to hike Kinder Scout in the Derbyshire Peak District, have a dip in the stream, eat fresh fruit and salad, snooze on the rocks, listen to the new lambs, marvel at the technicolour time of year, learn about the area's history (in the pub) and then sleep like a lovely, heavy, moss covered, grub filled, hedgehog homing log.
Ready for the world!
Now, with all senses stimulated but satiated and rested, it is back to 'work' with my whole revitalised sense of presence, balance and focus. I am fully charged and in the best shape to support others to discover what nourishes them the most.
Being on go-go mode 24-7 just isn’t healthy for me. It’s easy to get swept up in all the distractions, bright lights, deadlines, targets, late nights and living in the fast lane – but saying YES to prioritising my health was the best gift I could have given myself.
John Milton helped me understand we have more than just our five senses keeping us connected to our inner and outer nature. In addition to sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, John explained there is also balance, movement, experience of life force, emotions and thoughts. Tuning into all these senses enhances our experience of life and enables us to connect in much deeper ways to the world (and nature) around us, until we can truly realise that we are nature, part of a huge, complex, beautiful, interconnected system.
So in between the big adventures, marathons, lengthy cycle trips, or the long work days, spare a thought for how you might tune into ALL of your amazing senses to boost your own self-care. What ‘slow motion glow moments’ could you pursue to nourish your mind, body and soul? Let me know in the comments section below.
As well as her private practice as a Life Coach, Phillipa is also currently completing her Basic Guide Training with Way Of Nature UK, supporting nature connection retreats on The Land in Derbyshire and spearheading an Health and Empowerment Collective in Derby City to bring about social change and community skill sharing.