This month, being my first after leaving a long career, and feeling almost like this is a new beginning of the ‘next phase of my life,’ I signed up for a month long “Mindfulness Summit” online. It seemed serendipitous that I begin my new life with an effort to be more in the moment, more aware of my thoughts and emotions as they come and go, and learn about how to get the most out of every moment from here on.
Life had been feeling in recent years like it not only raced by at break neck speed, but also that I spent much of my time looking ahead to the next event: school activity, work trip, vacation, dance competition, kayak regatta, bill payment, meal preparation….. you get the point. It felt like life was filled with a myriad of things to come, rather that what was happening right now. Then I realized my memory of some events was not very clear. Rather that assuming I was getting early onset dementia, I had the insight (or maybe sincere hope) that maybe I just wasn’t fully present during that hour or day, so that my mind couldn’t possible hold onto clear images when the memories were clouded with distraction. It is quite ironic that all the effort I put into these events in my life were sometimes lost due to my lack of being present, already onto planning the next event.
So this first month has become an exercise in slowing down, practicing mindfulness in even small moments, and enjoying those seemingly little things that make up our daily lives. When I look back, small things sometimes become the big, important moments of life. What do we have if not this moment, right now; the touch from my child, a sweet song of the bird outside my window, or the delightful aroma and taste of that freshly brewed Latte on a Sunday morning?
On that note, I’m off to make my second cup.
If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness, there are still 2 weeks left in the free summit hosted by ‘Mrs Mindfullness:’
A few years ago, I embarked on a quest for World Peace. Yes, a lofty goal for almost anyone, especially a mother, wife and nurse in a small town on Vancouver Island, Canada! I applied for Rotary International’s Peace Ambassador scholarship to study abroad: a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and to become an Ambassador for Peace. Needless to say, I didn’t get chosen for the scholarship (I did make it to the final round though.) Needing to redirect my path, I realized that I really should begin by finding a bit more peace within myself, building up my own repertoire of skills and resources, before embarking on the lofty goal of world peace! That is what led to my Yoga Teacher training. My teacher at the time spoke of noticing that voice in my head and techniques to quiet my ‘monkey mind.’ Around this time I also heard a quote from the Dalai Lama who said that world peace must begin within. Since then, I have been on the very bumpy road of searching for some inner peace!
Recently I had a conversation with a lovely woman at a party. Due to the upcoming elections, I find so many conversations lead to this topic. The woman explained to me, with a worried look on her face, that she was afraid of people from other cultures due to the actions of extremists within those cultures. She admitted that she was suspicious of and feared all members of those cultures. When I suggested that maybe we could first assess each individual based on their own merits, giving them the benefit of the doubt (after all, aren’t the majority if people inherently good?), she replied that she was too afraid to take that chance. At that point, we agreed to discuss something much more neutral like the weather.
I was taken aback, not truly grasping the depth of this fear-based state of mind and have returned to ponder this conversation many times since. As I listen to politicians and Canadians express their opinions and fears openly during this election time, I realize that fear is the root of most actions of our world today. Whether the impetus is basic freedom, a need for more money and power, or just a safe place to rest our heads at night, fear motivates so much of what we do.
Feeling a bit helpless and overwhelmed by the enormity of this, I know I just need to keep coming back to my own life, taking precious moments like right now to be grateful for what I do have in my life, how lucky I am to live in this wonderful country, and keep working on cultivating peace within. If I stay grounded, acting from a place of love instead of fear, maybe one day I’ll be ready to tackle a bit more of the world out there.