15 Apr How to recalibrate your life
Now that travel has come to a halt – even to the end of the road, I am working on recalibrating my life. A while back, I spent five days on a retreat in the Sussex countryside to learn how to ‘alchemise’ my life … to use the fuel made during challenging, ‘dark’ times to rocket out into the light.
In the West, we don’t like the dark times; we tend to see them as bad. The ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism teaches that harmony is achieved through embracing both sides of the coin, or ‘duality’, as it is called, whether dark or light, good or bad.
“These are times to look at any fears, to work through them, and then to recalibrate, to expand, to evolve, to look for the green shoots, and to water them and care for them.”
Faced by what we perceive as ‘bad’ and ‘dangerous’ we tend to freeze – our thoughts and our bodies. And when we freeze, our decisions are not so wise, and life closes off.
Instead of retracting into fear, look at it. Be inquisitive. What is the danger that you are sensing? Is it real? Or is it a fear that has lurked inside you for many a year – usually from childhood – and which in fact is totally unrelated to the present time?
The purpose of fear is to keep us safe – it is not to keep us in a state of anxiety, or in a state where others can control us.
So, for me, these are times to look at any fears, to work through them, and then to recalibrate, to expand, to evolve, to look for the green shoots, and to water them and care for them.
Here are some very personal tips as to what is helping me to recalibrate – to find my new direction in life:
- Breathing – the link to the world. Our life is the stretch between our first and last breath. Each morning I sit comfortably in a chosen spot, close my eyes, breathe in for five, hold for five, breathe out for five. All for five minutes. For my inspiration, I go to Alchemy of Breath.
- Yoga – for balancing mind and body. For online sessions, I turn to Sivaroshan, also because he makes me laugh.
- Fear can be re-scripted. In the still of evening, and after a busy day, is when my fears emerge. So I take out a blank piece of people and write down what that fear is. Is it rational? Most of our fears are stories that we create about future scenarios. I then re-script the story, to give it a positive outcome. For a book on this, I turn to Beyond Victim Consciousness by Lynne Forrest.
- Little pleasures. I look for the little pleasures in life … sitting or standing under the trees and listening to the birds or watching the sunlight play out around my flat. One of my bibles for life is, French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano, once head of Veuve Clicquot in the US.
- Choose your news source wisely. I listen to Monocle24 Radio… where news is delivered in a human way, with a sense of warmth and humour. A global outlook on current affairs, entrepreneurship, bookshops, culture, food and urbanism, with no politicians and lots of experts… oh, and I have subscribed to the magazine, as news should not come free.
- Dreaming is OK. Until I can once again do that walk around the Cap d’Antibes early in the morning, I am turning to streaming classic French films once a week – small steps are better than big steps says Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. In the same way that one slice of cake is better than four.
- Take in beauty as a form of reassurance. Beauty helps us to feel – the work of art (I’m so glad I started to buy artwork), a crafted product, a newly opened flower… each one to their own. Practice the art of looking. Remember that 80% of what we see comes from the brain… not the eyes.
- Gratitude for everything. When for people, be specific… narrow it to an action, and how that action made you feel. Say: “Thank you for doing the washing-up as it allowed me to slow down at a time when I am very tired”. Rather than just: “Thank you for doing the washing-up”. (My dishwasher, now mended, has been broken.)
- Let go, surrender to what life brings. Don’t waste your energy by getting all tied up in something that you cannot control. Let it go. Trust. Surrender to life being unpredictable. (Surrender worked when I accepted that my dishwasher was broken… I waited a week or so for the right moment, approached it calmly, and hey presto, I reset it once again and it worked!)
- Plan how you want to live. Start building your network for #buildbackbetter and #makemoneymatter.
During this time, I have discovered a whole new network of amazing people and things that come to my doorstep in some form or other. Here are just some of them:
- Natoora (see image below) for the best fruit & veg in London (all ordered through a fabulous app).
- My local butcher, Provenance, for their next-day home deliveries.
- Gilchesters Organics for flour milled from ancient grain varieties (you have to order quick though once they start milling) … yes, I am starting to make bread and pasta… Pimhill Farm for oats and oatmeal for making meusli & oat biscuits.
- Food & Forest for Spanish almonds and French walnuts, and more, delivered in London personally (although maybe this depends where you live!)
- Monmouth Coffee for fast delivery of coffee and Costa Rican sugar.
- Le Coq Epicier for friendly people & French grocery provisions (their store is near Angel tube station in London).
- Jars Ceramistes of France from Borough Kitchen for pasta bowls, plates & mugs with subtle colours… food at home now has a new take & so has what you eat it out of.
- Community Clothing and Katherine Hamnett for sustainable fashion which is good to wear at home and bought online.
- Haeckels for beauty products, and now for their radio station, my new listen-to music for working!
- MUBI or Curzon Home Cinema for streaming classic French films.
I took out a three-month subscription to MUBI (for £3). Hopefully by the end of this we will emerge into a whole new world, recalibrated and ready for what life throws at us!