No, these are not the top-line instructions for powering-up your iPad at Whale Huys. These are my humble thoughts about how we as individuals can find some well-deserved inner peace in a world where we are bombarded with information, deadlines and other stimuli.
You know that feeling when you wake up from a restless night of tossing and turning? I call this tired and wired. The day hasn’t even started yet and the baseline level of tension in my body is already at a 6 out of 10. I feel it in my jaw and in my gut. Lowering this residual stress-line is, for me, what relaxation is really all about. This is also what brings me back to Whale Huys time and again.
After a busy and stressful day at work, I would come home, switch-on the TV, check my phone, and sometimes even have music playing in the background. It was like trying to get a sugar-high to counter exhaustion; it brings a short, unfulfilling boost of energy before the crash. But exhaustion and relaxation are two very different things.
When I start disconnecting the ensuing quiet somehow feels unnatural at first. It’s like trying to write with my left hand. Phone off and computer off, I try to still my thoughts. Not by suppressing them but by letting them go. As I try to embrace the silence, I still find my mind darting from one thought to another. The quiet somehow feels unnatural at first but gets a bit more comfortable with time. Gansbaai makes this easier. The pace of life of here is already slow, and in the Winter it’s even slower, like someone waking-up slowly from a long afternoon nap.
But if it were just about quiet and reduced stimuli, I would sit in my closet with the light off. For me, it’s also about reconnecting. Reconnecting with nature and reconnecting with my own thoughts and feelings. At Whale Huys the sound of the waves against the rocks and the singing of birds punctuate the silence. Like watching the sea that is ever changing but also always the same. This provides that non-stressful connection with the natural world around me that brings my stress-scale down several notches. A walk along the sea path that stretches from Gansbaai to Hermanus provides a gentle release for some of the residual nervous energy in my body. (disclosure: not that I’ve ever walked the whole distance). The smell of the fynbos and the feel of the wind open senses that have been shut down by my block-chain link to my Xperia screen.
As the stress flows away, slowly space opens up for something new. New thoughts. New energy. A new mood. But this time without the frenetic urgency of a Facebook push notification. The residual stress in my gut is down to about a 2. It is in this new calm that I often find insights into problems I had been battling for weeks at work and a new outlook on many parts of my life. Ultimately, the Holy Grail is maintaining this sense of serenity and clarity back at work. For now, however, I will have to settle for a few days away at Whale Huys every now and then.