When you can’t change your environment, retreat into yourself

One of my favourite books for many years has been Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. They are the notes from his time as Roman Emperor, ideas that he jotted down for his personal use and didn’t plan to have shared. One of the lines I think back to most is this:

“Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind, especially if he can dip into thoughts there which put him at immediate and complete ease: and by ease I simply mean a well-ordered life. So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself”.

No matter where you are, you can retreat into yourself.

Whenever you can, sit quietly and just tune in.

What does the landscape of your mind look like right now? As you quietly observe your thoughts and feelings, see if you can make your mental environment just that bit more soothing and rejuvenating.

In Silence: In the Age of Noise, Erling Kagge challenges us to escape the world for three days. To unplug from all technology, head into nature, and not speak to anyone for the duration.

If you can do that, you’re so fortunate, but if not – try to create your own retreat right now, simply by closing your eyes and enjoying the comforts of your own mind.

When you can’t change your environment (during Covid-19 so far, I’ve lived with my Mum, my Dad, and my boyfriend’s family individually while waiting to move in with Iain) do what you can with what you have.

Start with your most powerful possession: your beautiful and abundant mind. Treat it well; rest and treasure it to let it take the best care of you.

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