Life Coach and all round amazing human Danielle Marchant is a Cornish lass. Raised by the rains of a small fishing village, she has left the comforting shores of Cornwall and created a life for herself spanning continents, and arguably consciousness too. Danielle offers the one-day Instant Pause in London and Singapore, which are excellent ways to kickstart a new year, a three or five-day residential Deep Pause in rural Berkshire or Cornwall, The Wild Pause, which is a UK based weekend of exploration in nature with wild camping, and The Sacred Pause, a five day spiritual retreat at Fivelements spa retreat in Bali. Having just relocated to the UK again, Danielle has created The Transformational Pause – a twelve month blended programme with quarterly retreats and coaching – or ongoing life coaching by Skype. We sent our Cornish writer Laura Barnes to The Deep Pause in North Petherwin.
Are there enough words to encapsulate the power of the pause?
What is The Pause?
A space to stop and listen. A nourishing retreat. A new beginning.
This is a review with a difference. To try to write about The Pause has been a tricky task for all the best reasons. How can I put into words something which has helped to change my life? Unlike other reviews on Tasting Britain, this experience nourished my mind, body and soul at the beginning of an arduous journey. Without boring you with the details, 2015 was a transformational year for me. 2016 promises to be even more so.
The Pause is a three day retreat in which nourishing food, time to stop and take stock and finding your question are at the forefront. What I found interesting is that Danielle does not expect those attending the retreat to necessarily find the answers, but identifying the question can help transition take place. Danielle, a professional life coach with over ten years of experience, organises some structured sessions for developing the question and getting to know the other people on the retreat. She is keen to remind us that attending any of these sessions is entirely voluntary, and if our pause is just sitting in our room reading, then that’s OK.
Where did the idea come from?
Danielle is an open person who has experienced many challenges in her life, including stress burnout. She created The Pause in response to what she felt she needed at that time. This is why food is so important, and why she focuses on helping people to stop. And listen. To themselves. She believes that in doing ‘nothing’, ‘something’ emerges. From the one day workshop of The Instant Pause to the fantastic sounding Balinese retreat of The Sacred Pause, there are options to provide shelter, nourishment and protection to people from any situation.
Down on the farm
The Cornwall retreat is held at Waterloo Farm in North Petherwin, near Launceston. This is an area with lush green fields, a stream with a really cool bridge and lots of woodland. Tucked away, next to a field with some sheep in it is Waterloo Farm. It’s a working organic farm (beef and lamb) as well as renting out several little cottages. The Pause takes place in two conjoined cottages, which have a gorgeous door connecting them. This means there are two kitchens, two sitting rooms and two patios on which to relax. Two bathrooms house actual baths, and all the bedrooms are en suite with showers. Breakfast is always taken together around one of the traditional farmhouse tables.
Since the space is rented, décor is kept simple, in a typical country style. There’s plenty of rustic slate floors, exposed stonework and bare wood. My bedroom was downstairs and had a double bed, although there was not a lot of room for much else. It was the perfect space for chilling and reading, as well as journaling, and I didn’t need for anything else.
All of nature wild and free
Calm, tranquil, pastoral. Due to it being a working farm, there is heaps of outdoors space for getting close to nature. This is an integral part of The Pause, and Danielle structures in time for meditating outside, searching for your question within nature and walking as a pair; discussing your search. There is also time for finding the right space for you in the surrounding countryside. By the river, beside the changing stream, or in the fields with mist rising, Danielle is keen for you to feel how ‘nature will hold you’; one of her mantras from The Pause.
Waterloo Farm is about four hours by car from central London. The nearest train stations are Liskeard or Plymouth and then it’s 40/60 minutes to the venue. Sometimes collection can be organised from the station. Taxis cost around £30-40.
Nourishing food is integral to The Pause retreats. Danielle judiciously chooses chefs who choose the best healthy and wholesome ingredients to create stunning vegetarian food. Our chef Amy from Ooosha cooks with mindfulness, and shares with us nutrition secrets, as well as participating in some of the coaching sessions. She works closely with The Raw Food Chef and creates recipes that are often raw or minimally cooked.
With a mutual fondness for bean to bar chocolate, and the health benefits of seaweed, Amy and I connected almost immediately, and I’ve since attended one of her chocolate making workshops in London. Look out for a review of this later on. Dedicated to the true meaning of comfort food, Amy made salads of quinoa and beets, delicious brown rice burgers, squash curry and many more incredible things. Of note was Amy’s attention to flavouring and bringing out the best in things, simply by adding natural flavours such as lemon juice, soy and spices. With a penchant for Paleo, Amy didn’t use sugar in any of the amazing desserts we had, and focused on excellent flavour combinations and nutritionally balanced meals. It’s a relaxed help yourself affair, and an opportunity to connect with the other souls on their Pause journey.
All of us on my Pause were foodie and the mealtimes held us together, as food so often does. Because everything was so fresh and healthy, we felt happy to eat as much of the food as we wanted, and anything left was stored in the fridge, so we could pick at it later.
Breakfast is served at around 7.30 – 9am and is always hearty. We had polenta cakes and frittata (think smoked tofu and courgette for example), quinoa pancakes with stewed fruit and yoghurt, cacao and brown rice griddles pancakes and many more lovely things. Once or twice we also were treated to a green smoothie. Lunch fits in with the rest of the day, and usually centres around delicious salads, hummus, and Amy’s knack for getting the best flavours in things. One afternoon we had home-made soup, which was super delicious. Evening meals are comforting such as scrumptious butternut squash and chickpea curry, veggie chill with wild rice and home-made tortilla chips and brown rice and lentil burgers.
On the Saturday, it is mild enough to eat outside and enjoy the firepit. D even cracks open a bottle of wine, which blows other retreats out of the water. This one is less about detoxing and more about enjoyment and connection.
What are the coaching elements like?
Danielle has spent a lot of time working on the different types of pauses, from the instant day-long workshop to the five day retreat. However, there are some key elements which she ensures she includes in all of them. There are two daily sessions in which people are invited to come and share their progress/ story. This is always done in a respectful way, where each person must wait for the speaking stone. The group is very supportive and really takes the time to listen to one another. Finding your question and writing a letter to your future self are included in The Pause, as well as some guided meditation and time in nature.
Danielle is always available for 1:1 coaching sessions during The Deep Pause and the longer pauses. This can be developing your question or possibly contemplating answers, or it can be about something else entirely. Watching her move around the room and ensure everyone gets their time to speak demonstrates her skills and intuition when it comes to people.
It’s refreshing that none of the activities are compulsory, but thanks to the way in which they are led, and the compassionate other people on the retreat, joining in is made easy and comfortable, as well as extremely bonding. During the field meditation, one of the ladies became distracted by the bugs, and she was able to leave in a safe space, without judgement. Danielle reinforces that this is YOUR retreat and as such it should be comfortable.
How was it first hand?
With the nourishment of Amy’s cooking and the quiet protection of nature, I felt very safe and relaxed on The Pause. After a year or two of some difficult mental health issues, The Pause contributed to my life in several different ways, which have enhanced it greatly. For one thing I have changed my eating habits, in alignment with embracing a more Paleo lifestyle, and eat raw where I can. This has seen me drop 2 dress sizes, have more energy and start walking for fitness. Secondly, I reconnected with nature during my Pause. Which sounds kind of crazy considering I live so close to a river, but the stresses of work and so on had inhibited this somewhat. Finally, I am remembering to practise daily gratitudes, which leave me in a more positive frame of mind.
The Pause was timed well to kickstart a transformation, and I anticipate this continuing for several more months, possibly even years.
How can I book myself one?
Perhaps before booking onto one of the deeper retreats, a trip to the one day Instant Pause will give a taste of what’s to come. Danielle’s website lists the upcoming retreats and workshops as:
The Instant Pause is described as a ‘pit stop for super busy people’. It begins with a check in and leads exercises to draw out the big question. Lunch (of nourishing soup or salad) and snacks are included, as are materials for the workshop. The Instant Pause is held by the canal at The Proud Archivist. This is an open and airy space in Haggerston with lots of wooden slats on the ceiling.