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Finding Your Rhythm Profiling Practice 131: Inquiry: Voluntary Simplicity

Weekly Practice No. 13

Every week we profile one of the “Reflect to Create! “ practices from my book, they are chosen at random from a jar on my desk.  My invitation is for you to try it out if it speaks to you in some way.


Beach scene with Simplicity overlaid


This week we are profiling Practice 131: Voluntary Simplicity (from page 211 of my book).

Practice 131 is one of the dance steps in The Flow’s Finding Freedom. Finding Freedom is the dance step, which invites us to tune into our intuition and allowing our inner wisdom to guide us home.

The theme of busyness and overwhelm have really bubbled to the surface in my work this week. For me therefore Practice 131 is a reminder to return to our essence, of who we are and why we work.

Elegant simplicity is a choice. Choosing elegant simplicity gives us back our freedom. As Oliver Wendell Holmes writes¹:

“For the simplicity that lies this side of complexity, I would not give a fig, but for the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity, I would give my life.’


For this week’s practice:

  • Notice your impulse to choose busyness. Notice how you might be choosing distraction and overload. Chart this if you can over a day or a couple of days. Study your patterns. Ask yourself over a typical day what is your ratio between doing and being.
  • Now ask yourself ‘Why?’, ‘Who or what does this serve?’ and ‘What are the costs to me?’
  • Now explore how you can choose more moments of voluntary simplicity – of slowing down, of doing one thing at a time, finding joy in the beauty of the present moment.
  • Journal and plan what is possible for you here.

As Mary Oliver writes in her poem ‘When I am Among the Trees’²:

When I am among the trees,

they give off such hints of gladness.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, ‘It’s simple,’ they say,
‘and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.’

Have a go!

Start with small steps.

Reflect on what you are noticing.

Please do share your stories so we can all learn together.

Join us on our “Reflect to Create!” Facebook group. 



[1] Downloaded 8th December 2017. Cited in

[2] Oliver, M. (2007) Thirst Poems by Mary Oliver. Massachuetts, Beacon Press


1 Comment

  1. Michele Rou on June 2, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Thank you, woderful message, mary oliver captures our longing for simplicity. Yes let us all be with the trees!

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