The other day I made a new and lovely discovery during my meditation session. It took me just a few minutes sitting their on my cushion before I got the feeling you get when doing a physical relaxation program. You know, when you go through your body, tightening your left hand and relaxing it, then tightening your right hand and relaxing it, and so on. After a while it feels like your whole body is soaring above the bed, armchair, floor, or wherever you’re lying or sitting. That’s the sensation I reached – without a single second of physical relaxation – several times over the last few days, and it certainly does not make me less inclined to do my mediation.
One of the five people in my life that I miss like crazy when going “on tour”.
Last night I slept on a train while travelling from one end of my country to another. Sleeping on trains is usually something I enjoy – and I particularly enjoy not flying and leaving big dirty ecological foot-prints when train is an alternative. This time, however, I was a bit unlucky. Firstly, a group of students going by train to their new campus decided to have a late-night party (= loud music and loud voices) in the compartment next to mine. Secondly, I woke up at four o’clock while the train was standing still for some time, and couldn’t manage to go back to sleep although I didn’t have to get off the train until 6.30. Besides, I didn’t feel comfortable doing my daily evening meditation in the minuscule compartment in the company of two unknown women. Having worked for 12 hours the day before and having to work for about as many hours today (including giving a four-hour lecture), the situation could have turned into a real disaster. But it didn’t.
The reason – at least I strongly believe so – was that when I couldn’t fall asleep because of all the noise yesterday night, I decided to treat myself to a reiki healing session. As I almost always do, I fell asleep before having gone through my whole body, but I still seem to have got the energy I needed to cope with today. I’ve heard somewhere that a reiki treatment can correspond to four hours of sleep. If that is true or not I cannot say, but I haven’t been tired at all today – in spite of only four hours of sleep and two really hectic working days. No headache either. I have actually had a really lovely day, in spite of rainy weather, the best part being when one of the teachers participating in my workshop exclaimed that “This was a hallelujah moment!”.
PS. Note to self: Whenever I get to bed too late, do a session of reiki, no matter how short, before I fall asleep.
Ho, ye thoughtful, strong and gorgeous ladies. So many ideas, goals and strategies! Whatever you do the coming year – flood it with love for yourself! Work with your habits and possible flaws only because you love the divine person they are part of – and love that person because she has those flaws, not in spite of her having them. Love is the stream capable of carrying your project the whole way through, and much further. Lots of love and luck to you both!
The words come from my friend S, one of the wisest people I know, and a constant source of inspiration in my daily life. What she writes is so true: acceptance, tolerance and – especially – love are important ingredients in a project like ours; otherwise there is always the risk of ending up with performance anxiety, an ingredient we definitely don’t need. Something that makes my part of the project a bit different from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project is that I’m not so much trying out new things in order to find out if they could make me happier. I am already happier than I’ve been in my entire life. I have stopped hunting, and found happiness all around me. What I want to do is simply to find more room for things that I really enjoy doing.
With this perspective as the starting point, I feel that my project is infused with love, in every part of it. The commandment I put at the top of my list runs Give love, respect and attention to yourself and people around you. The very essence of my project is to show love and respect towards myself by focusing on things that I know make me feel good, or that are good for me. For instance, I loved my daily meditation routine three years ago, and I’ve longed to get back on track. However, with a life so filled with activity and people needing me as mine, it’s sometimes difficult to find time to do all the things I enjoy. I’ve tried, half-heartedly, for several months, but as soon as I integrated meditation in my project it became so much easier to prioritize.
Being able to document and reflect in writing on what happens in my project is another way for me to prioritize something that makes me go wild with happiness, thus again giving love to myself. Many thanks to you for patiently reading what I write!
In recent years I have found an excellent strategy for coping with household chores and garden work: listening to radio programs (from online archives) on my smartphone. It now feels so much less boring – instead I get some time and space to be on my own, while beings served glimpses of interesting life stories or documentaries on exciting topics. Welcome laundry, dishes and lawn mowing, let’s have some quality time together!
Sunset behind our neighbours’ field next to our garden.
Today I’ve been doing garden work all day – splitting logs and mowing the lawn in our huge garden – and thus had an excellent opportunity to listen to the radio for hours. I was a little disappointed then, when doing the last 20 minutes of my mowing and my smart phone ran out of power. Suddenly all I could hear was the distant sound of the lawnmower outside of my hearing protectors. But then I decided to turn the last part of my mowing into really mindful mowing. So I focused on feeling the grass under my feet, the handle of the mower shaking in my hands (the machine is a really old one), smelling the newly mown grass and watching the sun set.
And then tonight, I dug out my old yoga DVD from behind all the children’s movies and did a short session. I became a bit nostalgic when I heard the voice of the yoga instructor; it reminded me of my last pregnancy – I haven’t done any yoga since then. I had forgotten how hard it is when your body is unused to the positions (especially, I think, “the dog position”), but I will definitely give it a try.
To finish off this day, which has been very much focused on physical rather than mental activities, my younger daughters and I had a few lovely (and mindful!) minutes in the garden just before they went to bed, trying to spot bats, which tend to fly around our house at night. Before getting back inside, we also sang a traditional Maori song that we learnt at a wonderful camp a few weeks ago: Ma The Aroha – Where There Is Love, There Is Life!
I didn’t think it would be this easy to get started with a daily routine of evening meditation, but after a few days it already feels just as natural as it did a few years ago. Even if I’ve been up very late at night lately, I have had no problems motivating myself to sit down for my little session before going to bed. Yesterday I got the feeling that I recognize so well from the time in my life when I actually did meditate every evening: the feeling that I could sit there for ages – although it was over one 0’clock in the morning. Simply lovely!
When I did my mindful walk to the mailbox this morning I noticed that I was walking very slowly. This reminded me of the time when I was on parental leave with my youngest child and started doing things – such as shopping, laundry, watering my houseplants – very slowly (often because there was a little one hanging from a baby carrier in front of me). I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this, that it felt like meditation, and I decided that one part of my mindfulness project will be doing things, such as driving my car and eating, more slowly (otherwise I’m the kind of person who usually does things at high speed…).
My “office” for today!
I have also created a playlist for my Reiki sessions (for the first time in many years I did half a session the day before yesterday). A session is one hour long and contains twelve positions – so twelve tracks, five minutes each. The playlist also works very well as background music when I’m working (today I’m doing this at a really cosy café in the town where I live – and in a little while a friend of mine will be joining for a cup of tea). Enjoy your day!