For the last three or four summers I’ve taken several weeks off, and it’s now become a must-do. I usually go for a tai-ji retreat in Herefordshire, full of fresh air, meditation and tai-ji practice, which is about balance, feet on the ground, and flow. From there I have often gone to the most glorious Greek island, where I’m mostly on my own, self-catering. I spend about two weeks barely talking to anybody, other than the waiters in the restaurants.
I go walking every morning in rugged, sheep/goat country, which is rough and strenuous. I watch the sun come up, and there’s nobody around, and I come back after two or three hours, thrilled because I’ve done something very physical. I only check my email every two or three days.
I come back from this break feeling refreshed and rested. I’m astonished at how clearly I can think, and I find that I can make decisions really easily.
What seems to be the norm is that by the time I go on holiday I’m often extremely tired and may even feel a bit overwhelmed. I also seem to become increasingly welded to my technology. Taking a break from all that gives me clarity and a sense of purpose, and I regain the much-needed focus that can be quietly eroded as the months of working go by.
These breaks remind me of the whole idea of being fit for purpose in what we do. Our work in relational coaching and supervision, which is tremendously stimulating and rewarding, is also very demanding. Culturally and socially, we’re in an environment that puts pressure on us. We are constantly being deluged with stimuli. So to have two clear weeks where I have very little conversation, where I have fresh air, exercise and rest, absolutely recharges my batteries.
When I come back to being with my clients, I can be truly present with them again, having had a really refreshing break. For me, that’s an important part of being fit for purpose.