Why Simplify Now?

Bob Hillary shares his experience of living off-grid for two years: discover what he learnt and its relevance to the current world situation

This feature was originally published in Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine, Autumn 2020 (issue 63).

by Bob Hillary

So, five years ago, I decided to up sticks and go to explore living off-grid. In a field. In a yurt. In the Welsh mountains. I just reached a point in my life where I had had enough of living in a system that I didn’t agree with… One morning I woke up – in my high-rent-endless-utility-bills-work-for-the-man-taxes-paying routine – and something just snapped. Something deep within me said, ‘Go look for another way’. So I did.

I bought a small (cheap) piece of rural land in the hills of Wales, and I moved onto it. I gave away most of my possessions – all of the clutter I’d been dragging from rented house to rented house for years. I stopped paying taxes, bills and rent, and started living from the land.

I collected my drinking water from a spring and lived in a 20-foot yurt, with a wood-burner for heating, a Welsh river for washing in (yes, brrrr, COLD!), a solar panel for laptop charging, and a single lamp so I could read at night. I set about growing my own veg, and got my meat fresh from the local farmer. The locals thought I was a bit nuts, but were amicable and intrigued. They let me get on with it.

I spent two years living on the land and learned a lot. I learned that much of what modern society tells us we need to have… well, we really don’t need it at all. I learned how to live with very little. It was tough, but it was beautiful. It was healing. Freeing. Financially. Spiritually. Energetically. On every level.

I feel like during this move, I received a massive healing. I learned how to step out of the fear of our society, and into the deep power of the land. Something that I feel that we have all been deliberately cut-off from.

I believe that the challenge of the increasing chaos of our times is to re-find our connection with the land. To get back to that which holds us well. Because our leaders and governments are clearly not doing that very well any more (did they ever?) and in fact, the big lesson many people seem to be feeling from the COVID-19 lockdown, is that we are all in fact being called to find a different, slower, more sustainable pace of living, one that is more ‘Earth-centred’, and less fear-based.


It is clear to me that the times we are heading into are calling loudly for us, as a species, to CHANGE. To become Earth-aware individuals, ‘Earth Warriors’, if you will. Each one of us honouring our planet and taking responsibility for its welfare.

An increasing number of us are making the switch, from over-fast all-consuming modern living to a slower, but surer, way of being and doing in the world. Growing our own food, regenerating our communities, un-hooking from the system, from the fear, and moving boldly and steadily into a new future… one where we are free to think for ourselves and to make our own conscious choices

For me, the remedy for these over-complex times is to simplify. To unplug from the system and from those things that don’t have our best interests – or the planet’s – at heart. To quite literally – step away from it. So that we may empower ourselves and start creating the kind of earth we do want to live on! Collectively. En masse.

If there is just one thing I learned from my time of living off-grid, it is this: That it is entirely possible to ‘un-hook’ ourselves from a system that is clearly struggling to maintain how it has always done things, and in fact it is of utmost importance at this time that we choose to move forward into the new – rather than letting ourselves be pulled backwards into fear and chaos and control. So step forward good people. Step towards that which you want to see and be in the world – and we may find ourselves supported in ways we couldn’t even previously have imagined possible!

20 Tips to Simplify
1. Connect with nature every day
2. Back off the technology. Turn off your smart phone for a day. Two, even! Give yourself a break
3. Allow yourself time to be BE. We are human beings, not human doings
4. Slooow down…
5. Learn to meditate
6. Learn to breathe deeply and calmly
7. Do what you love… as your work
8. Swim in the sea, often!
9. Stop spending so much time on Facebook – seriously
10. Take up gardening. Grow your own veg. Get your hands in the soil
11. Learn how to say ‘no’ to people
12. Try not to go online first thing in the morning
13. Take up yoga
14. Stop watching the news
15. Be nice
16. Try not checking your emails every day
17. Turn off your wifi at night
18. Look at the stars
19. Take time out and love yourself
20. Be an awesome human being, and don’t settle for anything less

Find out more

Bob Hillary is an Earth Protector, singer-songwriter, permaculturalist and keen believer in the need for change at this time. He tours internationally and has released four albums of his music to global acclaim. He also runs healing workshops for men. He lives semi off-grid in Frome, Somerset. You can check out his work, music and videos at his website. His new album Simplify, a collection of 12 soul folk reggae songs for a calmer world is also available from his website.

Simplify: How to Stay Sane in a World Gone Mad by Bob Hillary, Watkins Publishing, illustrated hardback (216 pages). A spiritual self-help book written during Bob’s time of living off the grid, designed to help you navigate these challenging times. It is, in Bob’s own words ‘A Manual for these Times’. It is illustrated with kooky cartoons.

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