The main reason, I go down to Devon in the Winter, is to try and reconnect with the natural world. It is like going on retreat. I leave my laptop, at home, pack the car and set off. The feeling of freedom, as I turn off the busy M25, has a powerful effect on my emotional centre. It is like turning on a switch that signals the start of a spiritual cleansing.
The nearer I get to the coastline, the lighter I feel, both physically & mentally. It is as though, a great weight is being lifted off my shoulders. Any worries or unresolved problems just seem to flow away. This may have something to do with the fact that Salcombe lies on the mouth of an estuary, and the daily tidal cycle is able to correct any misalignment in the body's circadian rhythm.
During my visit, I always do one big walk. It consists of passing through North Sands, South Sands and then onto Bolt Head. A distance of about 12KM. At every point on the walk, the sea is always visible and its metronomic properties help to settle the mind. Thoughts that have stubbornly settled over the past year, gently drift away.
By the time I have reached the rugged cliff path of Bolt Head, my body & mind have been transformed. The sights & sounds of the natural world are far more than just purely physical manifestations. There is something primeval about distancing oneself from civilisation. It is a feeling that mankind is gradually losing, as we emerse ourselves further into the digital landscape. Resetting this imbalance, is an important step, in the stabilisation of our mental health.
There is a bench at the tip of Bolt Head, where I sit and listen to the crashing waves below. I am usually alone, as very few other walkers tend to venture this far along the peninsula. It is a time for quiet reflection. It is time for remembering how fortunate we are, to still be able to reconnect with nature's infinite power.
Like religion, mindfulness can take many different forms. Some people like to sit & meditate indoors, but others prefer to untangle their thoughts, whilst walking. There is no right and wrong when practicing mindfulness. The most important part is to find an environment that allows one to expose the mind to a higher power. Mindfulness in daily life is a practice that tries to expose the mind, in a variety of environments & situations.
My pilgrimage to South Sands, is just one part of a multi dimensional approach. And I highly recommend giving this type of practice, a go. After all, the worst thing that might happen, is that nothing happens.