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5 Day Silent Retreat

At the end of 2018, I was lucky enough to go on a 5 day silent retreat. I say lucky, but to be honest, I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t have the funds to go. Or the time. And I didn’t want to leave my young family or my work family for that long. But I had to go really, as part of my Mindfulness teacher training. So booked it and shut up, literally.

In booking it, I was met with my working class edges of thoughts, “sitting in silence in a country manner in Devon – *eye roll* – how’s that gonna help anyone or anything?” So I chose the specific retreat and teachers very carefully. In my research I found Zohar and Nathan, the founders of SangaSeva: “sangha-” a group of people who feel connected to a similar cause, a community of spiritual friends, a body of heartful activists.
“-seva” means offering the best we have to give. Often it is translated as selfless service: An action which benefits another as much as it benefits us, as long as we wish to cease being self-centred, that is.

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Digital Detox

profile picGoodbye internet, we’re taking a break! This Christmas all of us at the The Owl and The Coconut will be turning off push notifications and turning on our out of office reply.

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Because it’s time to stop. Not forever! Just for the Christmas break! When you are really passionate about what you do it’s tempting to never stop. But is that healthy? In October we worked our socks off on social media to get votes for an Aviva Funding Pot. The vote opened while I was on holiday with my family; I felt I just had to be on social media pushing the cause. This wasn’t great as it meant every time my phone connected to the internet I was overwhelmed with updates and calls for my attention, taking me away from the beautiful beach I was on. My mind wasn’t on holiday at all.

Adam Sandler in Film Click

We received some very challenging messages and my mind began racing with replies, who to turn to for support, and how to look after the team thousands of miles away back home. I couldn’t believe how the worry thoughts grew like vines in my mind and pushed out my present moment connections and experiences. Auto pilot kicked in, like that pretty bad Adam Sandler film ‘Click’, and I began to fast forward through my family time to get back to sorting out work stuff.

But how could my mind be hijacked in this way?! All this mindfulness work! I’m the boss of my mind, right? I have a toolbox full of skills for coping with stress! So I made extra time for my mindfulness practice because it was a time I needed it most.

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Reflections on 2018 at The Owl and The Coconut 



As we reach the end of 2018 I’m feeling grateful and reflective as I arrive home after an intensive few days on the Paul Hamlyn Foundations Ideas and Pioneers retreat. Um retreat, well that fooled me! It was less pamper and more Big Brother meets the Apprentice with added layers of social value and ethical trading for pioneering social change. Amazing and exhausting! I met loads of absolutely amazing people doing amazing things to change the world for the better!

It’s now 5am on my first night home, I’m back to the happiness of being with my husband, son and dog but I can’t sleep. My mind is buzzing with all the thoughts and actions inspired by the whole event and the amazing social entrepreneurs I have meet.

Reflecting back to January 2018, just eleven months ago Pam (Co-Director of The Owl and The Coconut) and I sat in Trove cafe, in Levenshulme, with no funding and no base to work from. Two therapists with a dream that mental health services must evolve and break out of the confines of ‘clinical settings’ to get to everyday people before crisis point. With higher and higher levels of people experiencing disabling symptoms stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain, that change is needed now.

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