I’ve just come back from a weekend at The Good Life Experience festival in North Wales; a festival celebrating craft, culture, music, literature and the great outdoors. As I sit here now, a little blurry eyed but with warm electricity in my heart I realise; There is something truly therapeutic about a festival; almost a practice of mindfulness in itself.
A festival experience usually involves going back to basics; camping and surviving with less, socialising, engaging with your physical surroundings, dancing, tasting, walking round with your eyes and ears open. We even put our phones down for the majority of the weekend.
It’s obvious, on a mass scale, the therapeutic effect of a festival after Glastonbury, when Facebook Newsfeeds are filled with emotional status’ about people’s love for life, their experience and each other.
Something happens to us when we pause, let our hair down and engage our senses in a festival of experience; and in this weekends case in particular, I was reminded how to live a Good Life.
The search for a ‘Good Life’; a life you love, really begins with an inward journey.
In yogic philosophy ‘Svadyhaya’ or ‘Self Study’ is one of five elements that form part of an eight limb approach to living a healthy, enlightened life. Taking time to get to know, investigate, understand and accept yourself, I truly believe, is key to living an authentic, happy life.
As the famous Aristotle quote goes ‘To know yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’.
I stepped out my comfort zone during the weekend and was interviewed for the first time by a wonderful journalist about meditation and my journey with Horizon Retreats. I was asked at the end of the interview for book recommendations; ‘The Power of Now’, ‘A New Earth’, ‘The Inside Out Revolution’, ‘The Deepest Acceptance’ all came to mind. But my suggestion is to not just read those books, but to use them as a tool for self exploration.
Take particular note of any parts that don’t agree with you, that touch a nerve, even make you angry – it’s in those parts that you will learn the most valuable lessons about yourself and your own ego; you can then truly start to align your life to what feels authentic.
2# Take a deeper look at your past relationships… and let go
I had a boyfriend some years ago who was ambitious, driven, creative and funny. We travelled together and spent a couple of years in each others company. Despite us having a deep connection and friendship, love didn’t seem to flow between us. It felt like he would frequently close off to me and every time it happened, I would take it personally and in turn would close off to him a little more; until eventually turning it into a story of victimhood.
He certainly wasn’t perfect but looking back now, with clarity and empathy, I can see neither was I. I never told him how I felt or spoke my truth to him – ever, good or bad. I allowed my perception of his behavior, the made up judgments and mind chatter about situations, to affect my own behavior towards him. I reacted to his actions or inactions by feeling silently hurt and closing off to him rather than being honest with him and to myself. Both our egos danced an unconscious dance together and one where I self-identified myself as the victim; and retold hard-done-by tales to anyone who’d indulge them.
I had come to this realisation some time ago but ironically held on to it, keeping it to myself the way it always had been; until I reached out to him properly for the first time in 9 years during the festival this weekend (admittedly after spending quite some time at the Whiskey Shack!).
Letting go, releasing, saying sorry, forgiving and accepting forgiveness is freedom and love beyond measure. I am not sure a good life is possible without it.
3# Love; Yourself, your experience, it all
Right now, your experience at this very moment is just a teeny snap-shot of your whole life. Sometimes we find ourselves in a snap-shot that is pure bliss where we feel elation, we’re in a peak state of joy, we are loving life. And at other times, we find ourselves in a snap shot of experience that is challenging, troubling or deeply sad.
The pursuit of living a Good Life; a life you love, is to know and accept that everything changes, to recognise the beauty of life’s impermanence and welcome it all.
Accept that moods, feelings, experiences; life itself, will always and forever be a rainbow of shades and colors, beginnings and ends; and know that each snap shot, good or bad will eventually pass.
On my drive home to Cornwall on Sunday evening, with the sun setting over Bodmin Moor to an indigo sky, I physically felt an inner release. A release of past pain, attachment to story and a realisation from deep within that all is as it’s meant to be; life IS good.
And now sat here in the little space I call home in my PJs, with a mug of coffee, my dog asleep in his bed on the floor I realise, despite nothing having physically changed; everything has changed.
I was reminded this weekend, a Good Life is about the simple things, giving your full attention to each and every experience with curiosity, letting go of the stories of the past in order to mindfully, authentically and honestly appreciate the present.
It’s about social and personal connection, being open and truthful to yourself and others; Knowing that this, your present moment, is the Good Life and is exactly as it is meant to be.