How to find your inner peace without a passport to paradise

Olympian Louis Smith

When I found myself burnt out and broken at the end of a truly terrible year, I knew I needed to make some changes. A perfect storm of stressful life events (relocating across the country to Tunbridge Wells, major job moves, an untimely death in the family) had left me feeling lost, exhausted and desperate to escape. A one-way ticket to paradise sounded like exactly what I was looking for…

I wanted to disappear on an Eat Pray Love-style quest for inner peace like Elizabeth Gilbert. Or take a Wild wander through the wilderness like Cheryl Strayed did in her memoir about walking the Pacific Crest Trail. Anything but another trip between the washing machine, dishwasher and my email inbox! And yet, while I was sure I’d be able to fix everything with a few Balinese sunsets and a ton of pasta, life had other ideas.

Two young children, a hectic magazine job, a husband working all hours for the NHS and a diary filled to bursting with soft play birthday parties… There was no way I was going to be running away to meditate on a rock anytime soon.

Even though I couldn’t disappear off to India, Italy or Indonesia in search of inner peace, I still wanted to find a way to feel better and live better – and so in the eye of that storm I hit upon an idea. An idea that became a year-long project in which I explored a different mystical or spiritual practice (everything from meditation to manifestation) every month from the comfort of my own home here in Tunbridge Wells.

That project became a book: A Year of Mystical Thinking: Make Life Feel Magical Again – a spiritual sourcebook/mystical memoir that tells the story of how I injected the magic back into my life and explains how you can do it, too – even if you don’t have much in the way of disposable income, free time or opportunities to fly off on a solo jaunt to Bali.

If you’re ready to make your life feel magical again this January it might just be the perfect read! Here’s what I learnt…

Find magic in the mundane

Making life more magical shouldn’t feel like another task on your To Do list. A spiritual practice that turns a routine into a ritual is the best practice of all.

During my mystical year, I found myself stirring intentions into my morning tea, turning baths into magical rituals and making wishes on every candle I blew out (not just the birthday ones!)

It doesn’t have to be perfect

Take a scroll through spiritual Instagram and you’d be forgiven for thinking a mystical life requires fancy yoga pants, 17 different scented candles and a permanent sunset backdrop. It doesn’t!

Trust me, there’s a reason I devoted a whole chapter to the pitfalls of perfectionism and living your #bestlife. You don’t need to rise at dawn, spend a fortune on crystals or master a crow pose to discover the magic of the mystical world. Do it your way – I did!

Just say yes

I might have set out to find inner peace without buying a one-way ticket to paradise but the universe had other ideas. You’ll have to read the book to find out exactly how I ended up going to Byron Bay, Australia for a long weekend, but I will say it’s the best contradiction I’ve ever watched play out in real time. Spoiler: I bought a return!

Slow down and celebrate the seasons

Slowing down sounds like obvious advice but in our hectic modern world it can be difficult to achieve. Sometimes life moves so fast we don’t even notice the seasons let alone celebrate them! And sometimes those seasonal celebrations feel more stressful than they need to be (not naming any names… Christmas!). Choosing to celebrate the festivals of the Wheel of the Year is a magical way to acknowledge the seasons without losing the plot over stair garlands. No one ever fell into a comparison spiral over the autumn equinox, right?

Start where you are and use what you have

When I first moved to Tunbridge Wells from inner city Bristol I found it hard to imagine I’d ever meet anyone on my wavelength: I was wrong.

When I started my mystical project I thought I’d have to go to London every time I wanted to explore something new: I was wrong about that, too.

Once I started paying attention I found there were many wonderful yogis, healers and alternative practitioners right here on my doorstep. Some of my favourite local magic makers are:

For Yoga

The Yoga House


I found my perfect practice attending classes with local teacher Helen Bishop ( at The Yoga House’s beautiful studio (

When I started running guided moon meditation rituals locally in 2019, The Yoga House proved the perfect venue. I also love yoga classes at SPN ( and hosting meditation events at their beautiful studios.

The brand new Sevenoaks studio was the venue I chose for my book launch in September 2021.

For Energy Healing

Read the July chapter of my book and you’ll meet energy healer extraordinaire Myra Antonia but you can also meet her in real life locally (she’s @starseed_akasha on Instagram) for transformative treatments. I also can’t recommend Dot Winter ( enough – a truly magical human.

For Sound Baths

My friend Alice Rose ( creates the most amazing crystal sound baths and runs events with me locally. Watch this space for plenty of magic from both of us in 2022.

Fancy joining me in 2022?

I’ll be hosting free monthly online live events throughout 2022 featuring special guests, giveaways and a whole lot of magic. I’ll also be running some super relaxing events locally, including sessions at my favourite local community venue The Inside in Calverley Adventure Grounds (


Find me on Instagram @mysticalthinking or Facebook (@mysticalthinking) for all the details.


A Year of Mystical Thinking: Make Life Feel Magical Again is published by Hay House and priced £10.99


Photos: © Mollie Manning

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