You wake up slowly, remembering your journey here as you watch the sunlight playing on the wall. You think of the week of space ahead of you and you let out a slow, deep breath.
Your breakfast is prepared for you, and you chat with the other group members who were strangers yesterday but who are already feeling like friends.
After eating fresh bread and runny cheese or a bowl of bright fruit, some slow walking meditation along the canal. You feel tension dripping away with every conscious step. A morning of mindful writing exercises, which take you in unexpected and interesting directions. A lazy lunch, a 1:1 with one of your tutors, an afternoon swim in a cool deep-blue pool, an evening of candlelight and sharing poetry. Time to slink off with a book, time to forge new friendships, time to explore those questions you’ve had about the direction your life is taking. Time to write in your journal. Time to be.
These are the kinds of spaces that we need to fight for. These are growing-spaces – a nourishing mixture of work and play, of winding down and learning new things. Times for opening up and allowing what’s outside of us to influence us, and for processing and pondering and feeling uncomfortable and letting go.
It’s easier to justify spending time and money on ‘leisure time’ when we flop on a beach with a trashy novel for a week. But these growing-spaces nourish us in a way that lying by the beach could never do. They give us enough reflective space to process whatever needs processing and to ponder on any deep questions that we’ve been stuck with. They send us back into our ordinary lives on a different track.
Without these growing-spaces, we all have a tendency to go onto automatic pilot. We continue with our safe and predictable habits, and we mistake the-comfort-of-security for being-alive. We forget that our time on this awe-inspiring planet is finite, and we get tangled up in little worries that distract us from some of our bigger worries (which in turn get in the way of Big Joy).
You can make mini-growing-spaces by sitting still for five minutes every morning, by taking a note-book to a cafe for an hour, by investing in 31 Days or by driving to see the sea for half a day. Week-long growing-spaces include yoga retreats, spiritual retreats, walking holidays, a week of art or cooking or writing.
And if you’d like to make the fantasy of waking up and watching the sunlight playing on the wall into a reality, you can! Spend a week with me & Kaspa in the south of France from the 28th of April, mindful writing & making creative space. This is the only whole week we’re tutoring this year. We’ll be at Château Ventenac where you’ll be thoroughly looked after (& cooked for) by owner Julia, and there will be oodles & oodles of growing-space. Mindful walks along the canal, mindful writing workshops, spare time for reading & doing nothing & swimming in the private pool, friendly evenings of poetry on the terrace… Read more here and get in touch with me or with Julia if you’d like to know more. Carve it out! Make it possible!
What growing-space will you find yourself this week? This year? Do let us know in the comments.