§ We came to this world to LIVE OUT LOUD.
When was the last time you gave yourself a week, a day, or even a couple of hours to simply be?
I just spent a glorious week at a Family Mindfulness Retreat with two of my daughters at Plum Village, the monastery founded by Vietnamese Buddhist Zen monk Thich Nat Hahn in the Bordeaux region of France.
My 12-year-old quickly bonded with girls her age and pretty much disappeared to do her thing while my 8-year-old ran with a pack of kids through the plum orchards, swinging on an old-fashioned rope swing and doing all kinds of art and craft projects with the sister nuns.
This left me gloriously free to meditate, attend dharma talks about parenting, relationships and love, have great adult conversations, take daily afternoon naps and attempt to do everything mindfully.
I ate in mindful silence really savoring each bite of the simple vegan meals, walked in mindful bliss feeling every barefoot step as the sun set, did my daily chores in mindful reverence of service and even showered mindfully savoring the deliciousness of the water cooling my overheated body.
It was glorious.
Despite the fact that I slept on a thin mattress on the ground in a teeny tent and had to hike to the bathroom in the middle of the night, this was by far the most relaxing week I have ever had.
I made a short video at the end of the week and I as I watched it later, I was struck by how I hadn’t looked that relaxed in years. (Check it out here and leave a like on my Facebook page if you feel inclined.)
It was just such a break – from the constant incessant to-do list and from feeling guilty if I wasn’t doing something productive. Or even from figuring out what to do next.
There were activities and there was lots of unstructured time but I only had one task: to be mindful and really present to whatever I was doing at that moment.
Easier said than done.
Yet I practiced compassion, laughing at myself every time I failed to be mindful and just started again.
I love how the monks and nuns constantly reminded us that mindfulness is a practice. We don’t have to do it perfectly. We just have to practice.
As I practiced, I noticed how time seemed to slow down, my stress lowered, and simple things became full of pleasure. The taste of the herbal tea, freshly prepared with herbs grown by the monastics. The sounds of the birds chirping. Really listening to my 8-year old tell me a story and noticing the excited delight in her face.
It sounds cheesy but yep, it was just like all those books I read about mindfulness.
It really does make your life more peaceful and better.
I have committed to make mindfulness a part of my daily life.
I know from past experience that it’s easy for me to get enthused about something only to drop it as I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
But I don’t want that to happen this time. It’s too important. In my 40’s, I’m keenly aware that time is passing and that this moment is truly all that I have.
I don’t want to lose a single precious moment.
I also know that it’s easier to turn a practice into a habit if I create structures to support the change I want to make.
So here are the structures I am creating:
- I bought a beautiful calligraphy by Thich Nat Hahn to hang where we eat all of our meals at home so I can be reminded that “This Is It”. This moment is all I have and my practice is to be present in it.
- I downloaded a mindfulness app which will have a bell ring every 20 minutes reminding to stop whatever I am doing and take a few mindful breaths.
- I will join a weekly sangha (practice community) as soon as I get back to Bogota.
I trust these will help me implement the changes I want to make.
So, what about you? What helps you be present in the moment? And if like most of us, you’re not usually present, how can you start this practice?
I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment and get in touch.
In mindful glee,
P.S. One of my BIG dreams is to connect with my tribe face-to-face and to build a strong global community of women committed to living their best, most authentic lives. I’m heading to Australia for a month in December/January and would love to meet my Australian sisters! I envision a sister circle where we explore living authentically, with passion and purpose. Let me know if you’re in Australia and want to meet up.
P.S.S. If you like the resources that I have been sharing, please head over to my Facebook page and give it a “like”.