Five years ago, early one morning, I received an e-mail from a potential retreat guest. She was interested in coming to my new Christmas/New Year’s retreat here in the south of France.
“Do you support Slow Tourism?” she wanted to know.
Slow tourism? What that supposed to be?
According to Wikipedia Slow Travel and Tourism is “Slow travel is a state of mind which allows travellers to engage more fully with communities along their route and at their destinations. Slow travel is not only about slowly travelling from one place to another, it is also about immersing oneself in a destination. ”
Okay, I can relate to this.
Dickinson and Lumsdon define slow tourism as “a conceptual framework that involves people who travel to destinations more slowly, stay longer and who incorporate travel to a destination as itself an experience. Once at the destination, they engage with local transport options and slow food and drinks, take time to explore local history and culture, and support the environment.”
Not only can I relate to this, but it also makes my heart sing.
Five years ago, I courageously launched a brand-new retreat, a Christmas/New Year retreat, and the experience blew my mind.
I put a lot of work onto making this retreat the most useful retreat it could possibly be. This visionary retreat would focus on creating a Vision Board and bringing this to life using visualisation meditation, but would also include walking sections of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, as a walking meditation, as well as writing morning pages, à la Julia Cameron, as a writing meditation.
My idea was to help my retreat guests develop a clear vision of the New Year by meditating mindfully on what they wanted to achieve during the next 52 weeks, while they are walking and writing.
It did not work out that way. It worked out 100 times better. My retreat guests taught me loads more than I taught them.
They taught me about Slow Tourism.
Wintertime in the south of France is very different from summertime. Although the days can be as sunny in the winter as in the summer, they are much shorter and much colder. Wanting to give value for money, I made the mistake of trying to fit a full summer day’s retreat program into a short winter’s day and failed.
My guests had other plans. They were all for being mindful and for making the most of every moment in this truly magical and off-the-beaten tourist track part of France, but they wanted to do this at a much slower pace.
They did not want to get up at daybreak to be walking the Camino by sunrise. They wanted to sleep late, wake up when the sun came up, have a leisurely breakfast, then set off to walk maybe a third, or even a quarter of the Camino that guests walk in the summer while taking just as long. They wanted to make their vision boards, but instead of spending 90 minutes doing so every day of the retreat, they were happy to spend 45 or fewer minutes doing so. The rest of the time, they wanted to sit in front of the woodburning stove…and just talk. Or read. Or listen to Christmas carols on the radio.
Rallentando. Calando. Ritardando.
So I breathed in deeply, breathed out till there was no more air in my lungs…and relaxed.
Not all my guests are interested in Slow Tourism, some are determined to walk as much of the Camino as there are enough daylight hours for during their stay. They spend 90 minutes working with me on their vision boards, and another 90 doing research on their phones/tablets. They get up before sunrise to do their writing meditation.
I love hosting both of these extremes, and every tempo in between, summer and winter.
I have to admit though, that I have a little penchant, a little preference, for doing things slowly. For encouraging my guests to travel here, slowly and to enjoy the travelling as much as the time at the destination, for walking slowly, for writing slowly, for slowly assembling vision boards for and savouring our time together.
Especially since slow tourism often results in more sustainable tourism and that is very important to me.
You are very welcome to come and experience slow (or not so slow) tourism by joining a Christmas/New Year’s retreat here in the south of France from now until the end of February. If you are not ready to book yet, keep in touch by subscribing to my mailing list below.
Would you like to escape on a virtual visit to the sun-blessed south of France for 10 magical minutes where you can quickly recharge your batteries and come back bursting with supreme self-confidence?
Of course you do!
I will take you on a virtual visit to one of the most unspoilt parts of south-west France, where you can lose yourself for ten minutes in the gorgeous pictures of the meadows, mountains, lakes, orchards, vineyards, lost-in-time villages, decadently delicious food and outstanding wines of this region while you listen to some of the most beautiful French chansons ever written.
You will quickly feel much more relaxed and once you are in this state of mind, you can read your complementary copy of my 10 Simple Steps to Instant Self-Confidence guide and as well as my Coping with Change Cheatsheet and Checklist. This means you will be back at your desk 10 minutes later, much more relaxed, much more confident and able to handle whatever crisis demands your attention.
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