Recently I’ve found myself in the library in the mindfulness section. Call it the yoga addiction or the easy access to meditation and mindfulness gurus, but the mindfulness connection has taken off with me. What about you?
“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thought; it’s to stop letting them control you.” -Unknown
I can’t even tell you when the first time was that I heard the word, mindful. I imagine it’s been floated around for years, and perhaps, like so many other things, it begins to penetrate when you need it most. And as with everything in life – things change. When I began my yoga journey seven years ago, I was looking for something to feel good, not hurt my back and an exercise that my little asthmatic lungs could handle. I didn’t much enjoy the meditation portion or the yogic philosophy or listening to anyone talk about chakras, healing ways, aromatherapy or any sort of sutras. Today, I crave it. I miss my Wednesday yoga therapy classes with Kellie and Friday meditations with Sarah at the old studio. But, as with everything in life, I’m in search of something new – something more.
“Every one of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Travel takes you away from the norm of the everyday. It puts you in a spot where everything is constantly changing, people are different, foods are new and information could change at any given moment. Mindfulness keeps you present. Setting an intention used to be annoying, now I completely see the point. What I once didn’t want to know about bandhas, locks and ujjayi breathing, today keeps me steady and focused on my mat. Early on I was bored in savasana (that last resting pose at the end of class) and thought it was a complete waste of time, today, it is a joy to reach. Who would have thought that the girl who dismissed the meditations all those years ago would go in search of them in order to bring that mindfulness along for the travel adventures? Being mindful matters.
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” -Eckhart Tolle
Some of my yoga instructors have hinted that they are guided by the works of their own teachers. Some use mediation apps to guide their own practice at home and abroad while others seek out centers and classes to keep themselves grounded. In each class they’ve hinted at letting go of thoughts, opening up to sound, focusing on following your breath and other healing tactics that do so much more than ground you to your mat. Would you believe I even stopped at a meditation center in Melbourne, Australia to check out their books and journals and find out more about how they run their space? I know, I couldn’t believe it either.
“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Behind the belief and focus on mindfulness is scientific evidence. Today, if you search ways to lower blood pressure, deal with anxiety, handle difficult family matters, work through stress, remain present while traveling or create a healthy lifestyle, you find links to mindfulness, meditation and other forms of natural healing. There are tools out there within reach and ones that meet far less than the overhead baggage allowance. They’ll fit on your phone, in a workbook, in your pocket or be able to be reached while simply sitting still in one place. On our recent travels, we saw people meditating throughout all of the national parks. One woman picked a spot amidst the giant Sequoia trees and managed to find a way to commune with nature while accepting the noise of all the travelers in her midst. On our walk the other night, we saw another who took to the shores of the San Diego Bay and while skateboarders noisily rattled next to her and children ran by with their dripping frozen yogurt cups, she got what she needed before going back to her holiday retreat.
“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear” – Rumi
Do you practice mindfulness? Do you make the time to sit still and just breathe? Which tools do you use? How do you take your mindfulness practice on the road? I’d love to hear what works for you.