The Downtime Agenda

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  • Images — Marnie Hawson

These days we are more likely to recharge our devices than recharge ourselves. Happy Melon is a first-of-its-kind mind and body studio that blends meditation with yoga and dynamic fitness. We talk to founders Sarah, Simon and Masha about their philosophies around mindfulness and meditation.

Happy Melon Studios.

Simon —
What do you do to unwind?
I meditate, surf, spend time with my partner and friends and go on adventures.

Are there consequences for you in not getting enough downtime? 
Absolutely. Balance is a daily practice and it’s easy to try and fit too much in, even when you’re involved in a wellness business. When I don’t get enough downtime my body tells me to slow down.

Tell us about the Happy Melon vision of a meditation practice being as common as a yoga practice.

Ten years ago, yoga was very rarely practiced in the Western world and now millions of people are benefiting from the mind body connection yoga provides.  We believe a similar movement for meditation is possible and necessary.  We live in a busy world but busy isn’t the enemy. If we can find space (mediate) between the busy, we can maintain balance and control stress. My current mantra is “busy is a reality, pausing is a necessity, stress is a choice”.

What are you reading right now?
Legacy by James Kerr. It’s about leadership and camaraderie.

What are some of the songs on your downtime playlist?
Livelier, Oh Wonder
Talk Talk, George Maple
High Life, London Grammar
Hurt, Lapsley
Spirit Bird, Xavier Rudd
Bridges, by Broods

Masha —

Tell us about the Happy Melon philosophy.
The Happy Melon philosophy is ‘get the mind right and the body will follow’. As a society we tend to focus so much on physical health and fitness from the neck down. We are conscious of what we eat, and we exercise more regularly, but we often bypass (or completely ignore) our mental health. At Happy Melon Studios we aim to infuse mindfulness into every action, every class, every conversation. We aim to demystify meditation by integrating it with yoga, Pilates and fitness.

What advice would you give to people who find it difficult to find the time for mindfulness and meditation?
We can cultivate mindfulness in our everyday actions and gestures. It could be something as simple as taking one mindful breath before answering a question, or closing your eyes for a few seconds before starting or finishing your journey in the car (the parked car is actually a great place to mediate because it’s quiet).

Where is your best vacation spot for Downtime?
Thailand, some of the islands don’t have WIFI so technology distractions are limited.

Who is your downtime partner in crime?
I actually like to spend downtime by myself. My job means that I am with people all the time, so when I need to rest and reboot…I like to do it alone.

Tell us about the retreat you recently took in New Zealand.
New Zealand is a country that reminds you about nature and beauty as soon as you leave the plane. Aro Ha in Queenstown captures it all in in the most graceful way. We took a group of members and guests to visit the magic of Aro Ha where we hiked in spectacular scenery, meditated, practiced yoga with the most incredible view of Lake Wakatipu and ate a plant-based diet for a week. You become refreshed and invigorated, it is a truly special place.

Sarah — 

How important is downtime to you?
Downtime is crucial to me, I notice that I can feel tight chested, frustrated or overwhelmed if I haven’t had a chance to take some time out to rest and enjoy the things I love.

Where are you when having downtime?
If not in my favourite slow yoga class at Happy Melon it is usually at home in the garden or at the beach in Summer. Sitting in the sun reading, meditating or pottering in my veggie garden brings a sense of calm over me.

Describe your ideal Sunday.
No alarm clock and breakfast at home. I used to love going out for breakfast but I don’t find it relaxing to line up for the first meal of the day. Plus, I make a really good breakfast! A walk would follow this with my husband and blue heeler Frankie to get a coffee. We then might escape the city – perhaps a trip to the country or to the beach. Seeing something new and inspiring (a movie/gallery/shop), catching up with family, cooking and getting my hands dirty in the garden would round out a pretty lovely day.

Before your role as Studio Manager at Happy Melon you worked in PR, how have your stress levels changed?
They are considerably more controlled! Don’t get me wrong, I still feel stressed at times but I have learned some valuable life-changing skills on how to manage stress and the emotions that are attached to it like frustration, worry and anger. Meditation and mindfulness are two secret ingredients.

What strategies do you have in place to effectively manage a busy day and reduce stress?
I ensure I make time for exercise, meditation and a lunch break daily. I am a far better version of myself if I can fit these three in each day. I work more efficiently, my relationships are better and I feel clearer. I now plan my time more strategically, for example I now only set one or two meetings per day. Plus I have learned to say “no” and ask for help!