I’ve been assisting Danielle with her content and marketing for almost two months now. Before working for Danielle, I’d heard lots about her and met once or twice when working at my last job. But the main interest for me came after how I heard my friends talk about her and what she had helped them discover about life on her Pause retreats. The way they spoke about Danielle was passionate, bright and dare I say it, almost magical.
What was this ‘Pause’ they kept talking about? And how could I get one?!
Fast forward a couple of months and I’ve just experienced my first Pause. It made total sense as Danielle’s marketing assistant that I should understand the transformation and experience that people have when attending, so I went with that in mind. But what happened was totally unexpected.
The first day of the Pause started in a strange fashion, one event after another seemed to scupper any organisational plans that the team had in place before attendees arrived. Food shopping for the group didn’t arrive, our journey was troubled… all we could do was smile and ride the wave of the chaos. Even though the Pause hadn’t yet started, I was already learning about how to cope when events are out of my control. When the turbulence was over and we sat down for the first time as a group of people on a retreat, I have to say I felt a little anxious at what was to come. Mainly because I had no idea! Danielle almost cheekily played with my need to know everything in advance and only unravelled the planned events one tiny nugget at a time. There she went, the mischievous Danielle, already teaching us so much about riding the waves of life in time of uncertainty!
The first evening was as you would expect when a group of strangers come together, everyone slightly putting on their ‘public persona’ hat as I call it, each of us keeping our guards up ever so slightly whilst still being friendly to one another. As we did our first checking in session, where one by one we spoke about why we had come along to The Pause, the hats were slowly being removed. It was around the shared dinner table that connections really started to be made, and a group meditation at the end of the evening let the hats truly be left to one side.
On day two I woke up still fighting the inner need to know what was coming and when. Funnily enough, on what was meant to be a retreat, all I seemed to want to do was rush to the next activity, and then the next. People talked about having time to sleep or wander around. I just wanted to do stuff. Strangely, the easy laid back timing of The Pause almost set out to prove that I could cope with not knowing, and things seemed to just happen, always at the right time and with enough space for it to manifest without force. I was starting to sense a huge gratitude for life, and everything that went with it. My family, my health, my ambition. Things that I took for granted on a daily basis kept appearing to me. I wanted to keep saying thank-you.
Later, we took a walk down to nearby lakes where we were set an exercise to sit in a quiet spot for an hour. AN HOUR?! What was I going to do for an hour?! I was panicking inside. I realised I hadn’t been left alone without some form of stimulation for an hour in a long time. As I sat and peered out over the beautiful water and listened to the trees rustle I waited for some kind of ‘meaning of life’ to appear. An answer to my big question. But what was my big question? For a while I just sat feeling confused. I couldn’t seem to keep my mind still and realised I was racing to find an answer. The answer to the question ‘what is my big question?’. No, the irony is not lost on me!
After I while I gave up. I decided to lie back and watch the clouds and look for shapes like I did as a child. This proved to be a lot more enjoyable. Lesson no 2 learnt – Stop forcing the answer.
A real turning point came for me in the evening of day 2. I don’t want to share much about the exercises and experiences that were shared on the retreat as I have realised the fun comes from not knowing. But let’s just say, I realised that it was ok to be moved by other people’s emotions. I realised that it was ok to let my guard down and show people I cared. Yep, Sarah Akwisombe, the coolest cat in Croydon had showed her emotional side. The cat was out of the bag! What a revelation. I showed emotion, I showed I was moved by people’s stories, and no-one judged me for it. I was allowed to be soft. It was ok. It actually felt good. More and more gratitude was forming in my head as the hours ticked on. How lucky and thankful I felt.
Day 3 for me felt like a chance to look forward and think about how I could take these new awakenings out into the world. And when I say awakening, it wasn’t a ‘ding’ lightbulb moment. It was more like one of those mornings where you wake up slowly over the course of a few hours. Bit by bit, little by little, clarity seeping in. My mum had also been on the retreat with me, and I felt a stronger connection to her than ever before. I wanted to ask her things, talk to her about her future without pressing my opinion onto her. I wanted to tell her I loved her and cared about her, and I did.
I came home with 5 major takeaway points.
- I am so grateful for everything life has given me, and it is not to be taken for granted.
- It’s ok to show people you care, and that you can be moved by emotion.
- Stop trying to know everything. The fun is in the gap.
- People are not what they first seem. You can make a true connection with anyone.
- If you do more giving than taking, things will always be good.
On the way home in the car with my mum we missed our exit off the motorway. We ended up being on the motorway for an extra 30 minutes, but instead of either of us getting stressed we found it was a blessing. We spent more time chatting and learning things about each other. We saw a beautiful sunset that we would not have seen if we had made our exit. Something about that seemed poignant.
I realise this may not be a review of The Deep Pause as you expected, and it wasn’t really meant to be. I’ve learnt that the fun is not in knowing or going along to discover some new meaning of life. Something special happens at The Pause, and it’s all guided by Danielle’s innate ability to spread a sense of calm, to read emotions, to know the exact right moment to step in with just a few words that turn your whole perspective upside down in the most fantastic and liberating way. For a writer, I am really struggling to put into words what she does there. But I do know this; It feels special. It feels warm. It feels sacred. It feels supported.
I am already longing for my next Pause.