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 we are, we can retreat into ourselves.

In another beautiful book, 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. Have you ever done that? Could you challenge yourself to?

When I head out on hikes, I love taking photos. I bring my DSLR camera so I have no reason to pull out my phone. I don’t always succeed at this. But when I do, I tell my boyfriend I’ll be in the mountains and put my phone in the bottom of my bag. I can look at the world around me properly. I can also retreat into my inner landscape.

Books