For the past two years, I chose to spend the New Year period at meditation retreats outside of London, but this year I decided to take a break from everything. Going on retreats sometimes stir up a lot of emotions and feelings that had accumulated over time and it could take up to weeks for me to adjust and return to ‘reality’. This year has been tough, emotionally challenging and exhausting, and I knew I needed some rest, so my plan was to do a ‘home retreat’ where I can hibernate and go ‘offline’ for a while.
I guess my intuition was right, I fell ill at the end of November and things deteriorated until I gave in to antibiotics (something I tried to avoid for a long time). I have never been sick for a month before, but then I realised it was a blessing in disguise because I was able to really slow down, relax, reflect and enjoy some ‘me’ time. Almost all my usual activities were disrupted… a month of no proper sleep, meditation (I couldn’t breath properly), socialising, tango, pilates, country walks, coffee and wine was like a cleansing/ detox period. The only down side was that I had vistors during this period and was unable to spend much quality time with them, which was a bit of a shame.
Since I got better, I was desperate to reconnect with nature, something that I had really missed while I was ill. I have never been a nature lover until recent years since I grew up and lived in different big cities for most of my life (except for my boarding school years), but I guess aging does have a strange effect on people.
To me, Hampstead Heath is like paradise in London, it has some magical healing power that can temporarily get rid of pain, sorrow, fear and anxiety. During spring and summer, it gives you hope, joy and positive energy, in the winter, despite the sadness, loneliness and stillness, you can still feel the hidden message… a message that tells you this will all pass and spring will be back again soon, so just enjoy this moment in time. Sitting on the same bench where I sat on 6 months ago, I felt incrediably calm, free and positive.
While I was walking in the cold, I suddenly thought that as much as I like Singapore, I don’t want to live in a place with no seasons changes. Life without winters will be so boring! The beauty of winter is something that can only be experienced and once you understand, you will forgive winter for all its shortcomings.