Two weekends ago I was lucky enough to be part of a UK based Zen Leader programme held at a rural retreat in Somerset. Eleven European leaders and entrepreneurs from a variety of industries and organisations immersed themselves in zen and leadership for three days. The feedback along with a couple of post participant blogs indicated that the programme was a great success. As always, watching leaders re-connect with their themselves is still a reminder to me of how lost we can become in this busy, turbulent and disruptive world. But what I love about these programmes is as well as immersing in zen we also have the opportunity to engage ourselves in nature, and on this particular programme in a beautiful part of rural Somerset.
There is no doubt in my mind that nature and humans are intrinsically connected, writing that statement alone seems relatively stupid in itself, as are we, not life itself? Where is this separation? During the programme, it was fascinating to witness participants drop into to what we refer to in zen as ‘bigness’ or ‘something beyond the self’ all of which is a little abstract. Nature helps with this process, taking us away from our separate and independent view of ourselves, to move towards bigness and connection with life itself.
Last weekend the scenario was flipped, and it was spent assisting at a yoga teacher training in a studio in Soho, Central London, which is probably as far away as you can get from being immersed in nature. But watching those thousands of commuters rush past me on Friday evening, desperate to leave behind their daily grind, lost in the process to their surroundings, nature came from nowhere and bit my arse! Drowned out by the speed and noise of the city nature was there in all its beauty, shouting at me, STOP, ignore me to your detriment! Look, see my green buds sprouting, my blossom opening, smell my fragrance, and breath into my bigness, I am here!
It brought to mind a quote by the author Pico Iyer:
In an age of constant acceleration,
Nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.
In an age of constant distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention.
In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.
Zen Leadership programmes http://www.institutezenleadership.org
42 Acres Rural retreat Somerset http://www.42acres.com