Sometimes a word in French fits better than an English one. Dépaysement has several meanings, but in this instance, I use it to describe ‘an agreeable change of surroundings/habits’. The translation feels less powerful than the single word. My knowledge and practice of the French language is abundant. This is due to a former 18 year chapter in my life. I use French irregularly these days, however this word captures the experience of my two short summer holidays this August. Timely “dépaysement” I find is absolutely essential to our wellbeing and personal growth.
Living in London, I find it actually quite easy to change surroundings or habits. The city is sprawling, and offers a multitude of agreeable cultural, artistic, geographical, and even natural surroundings to dip into outside our routine.
However much I love my work, and life in London, which includes yoga, meditation and quiet, I leave the city a few times a year. This is to reconnect with Nature and relinquish others’ needs to serve my own completely . My perfect “dépaysement” is where there is zero accountability to anyone other than myself. In a place where Mother Nature expands and breathes without restraint. So I can join in, unfettered.
On retreat for a few days in Hampshire, where like-minded people interested in self-enquiry, and a more harmonious world also go, I relax into the safe, and spacious arms of its natural surroundings.
Three vegetarian meals a day allow for human connections and conversations to flow amongst other guests while we eat. I always sense a particular energy of a table, or individual, that draws me in. I choose my seat wisely, as even on retreat there are people who are too much like hard work, or too full of ego. These I adeptly avoid with equanimity. I have mastered the skill of feeling no guilt, pressure or responsibility to people please, or pander to any character who expresses a need or entitlement to be heard.
The freedom to be myself, and freely roam the beautiful countryside and sacred-like woods – as well as practice yoga in solitude with birds warbling, and leaves rustling – is true “dépaysement”.
Another few days later in the month took me to the Dorset coast. A charming BandB in Bournemouth, close to the Boscombe Overcliff Beach was my base.
The sea air is simply a tonic to the soul. The sea, the water, sweeping over my feet paddling, or bathing my whole body has healing powers so far reaching, I was often moved to tears. Standing on the shore, feet massaged by the lapping waves, I felt absorbed into Nature. Her expansion, her connectedness to other humans standing in water perhaps the other side of the world felt seamless. These sensations are only possible without distraction of others vying for attention, or pressure we must be in the doing, rather than the being.
Breathing in the sea air, wind in my hair, feeling the sea water on my feet, and whole body under sunny blue skies, was pure “dépaysement”. It is so important to notice the feeling, the being, to appreciate it, in the here and now.
These two short “dépaysements” have left their imprint on all my senses, and I feel vitality still coursing through my veins. Thank you Mother Nature.
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© Amanda Yensa Manor 2019