Soul Nudges #4 ‘Voluntary Simplicity’

A few weeks ago I was reading from John Kabat-Zin’s book “Wherever you go there you are”. He writes about our frequent impulse to “always try and squeeze in another ‘this’ or another ‘that’ into this moment”. Just another phone call, quickly adding another activity on my way home. I know this very well – the people that knows me well often says that I am very optimistic about time and what can still be squeezed out of the moment.

This impulse, writes Kabat-Zin, doesn’t care about what it is feeding on as long as it’s feeding.  And through these impulses we often miss the current moment, often making us unavailable to other’s etc.  He mentions the idea of voluntary simplicityas:

“doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it”

This is such a simple but challenging idea for me. It might mean going fewer places in one day than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more. Wow, isn’t that powerful?

And as I was busy reading this, my little boy Luc asked: “Daddy can we play cards?” I was about to tell him I just just need to squeeze in another page of this book when I realise this was such a moment! I chose to say “yes let’s play” to really make sure I am there for that moment with him.

Kabat-Zin mention that these opportunities disguise themselves as distractions and this is so true. Be open and aware of these impulses as you go into the rest of this week and rushing towards the end of this year. Be aware when your inner voice says: “just another this or that” before you stop. Or when you get so carried away with eating that you miss the moment of the meal or the smell of the coffee.


Identify one domain in your life where you can go and practice voluntary simplicity – write it down or go to be there now! Think small. It might be to simply taste the next meal or wait a while longer before you rush away with the next email. Maybe even cancelling the next meeting to make sure you finish the previous one!

Or join me for a day retreat or a labyrinth session to create space for this.

Do one thing at a time and be there for it!

Keep it simple.