“0 to 100” – we hear this phrase all the time (thanks to Drake‘s 0 to 100/The Catch Up), and for some it might even be a catch phrase. But, for whatever reason, we never speak of going from 100 to 0. Maybe that’s because 100 to 0 has a negative connotation associated with laziness or doing absolutely nothing. Why is that a bad thing?

You heard it here first – going from 100 to 0 (real quick!) will be the best way to find quiet and truly relax in 2020. I found out after a crazy week in the mountains of Portugal that literally took me from 100 to 0 in the snap of a finger.

Holly Mowbray in Downtown Manhattan, New York. | Photo: Holly Mowbray

On April 17, 2018, I finished my last day of a four-month-long internship at an advertising agency in Manhattan. Living and working in Manhattan is fast. Work is expected to be finished fast, everyone walks fast, and people even talk fast. I knew I only had four months in such an amazing city to pack every possible activity in, so I made the most of my time and I loved every minute of it.

Then on April 18, 2018, a major change of scenery happened. I was suddenly sitting at Vale de Moses, a remote and intimate yoga retreat in the mountains of Portugal. I had new air to breath, time for taking moments to myself, and silence to reflect. At first, it wasn’t as pleasant as it sounds – I was terrified. After so many months of not having a spare second to look within myself because I was so busy doing everything else, I had a whole week to do just that.

The view at Vale de Moses. | Photo: Holly Mowbray

Each morning was spent in silence as all the retreat attendees had a breakfast of tea and nuts. Then we’d all go on a half-hour meditative walk. We had four hours or more of free time a day with nothing scheduled. Nothing planned. These were the moments I was most afraid of. On the first morning at Vale de Moses, I spent the entire meditative walk planning what I could do during free time. I added up the hours in my head to ensure that I wouldn’t have to be bored for even a second.

The scenery outside the window of the yoga studio at Vale de Moses. | Photo: Holly Mowbray

At meal times when all guests sat together and ate family-style, I felt panicked listening to everyone else’s profound thoughts and life stories. They inspired me but also made me feel like I was a phoney. I was only there because it was something my sister wanted to do. I liked yoga and a week in Portugal sounded pretty sweet too. There was nothing that drove me to seek Vale de Moses out myself and I rolled into the place after four months of speeding at 100 at all times. I joined my sister without giving a single thought to what I was committing too.

Retreat attendees chatting over snacks and tea in a common room at Vale de Moses. | Photo: Holly Mowbray

As the week went on, I began to feel that I was participating in meditation to some extent. I could listen to meditation instructions with minimal thoughts floating around in my head. Having free time continued to give me anxiety, yet I started to enjoy sitting and reading by the fireplace or chatting idly with the other guests more and more.

I can’t sit here and pretend that I became a new person in a week, but I did learn that I can slow down. Better yet, I might just enjoy it. I loved my time in Manhattan. Eating out, going to events, working long hours, hitting the gym – the routine and the pace excited me. But, I was going to burn out and it was only a matter of time before I did. And that’s why I’m so grateful for the week I spent at Vale de Moses; because seven days of yoga, meditation and unplanned quiet time can put things into perspective. It’s necessary for many of us who live a fast and furious lifestyle to put ourselves in a time out from it all.

So, I extend the offer or maybe the challenge to consider taking a break more often. Take things from 100 to 0, and not with a half-hour of Netflix before bed. How will you redefine what it means to slow down in 2020 instead of always promising to speed things up? Tell us in the comments below.

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