Relaxing. Do we Fit Girls know what that word means? Well, it has never been on the top of my to-do list. Until now, that is. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older, or maybe it’s the phase I’m currently in – mother with number two on the way. I’m not really sure, but I needed some true peace and quiet. I really had to recharge my batteries and I wanted to rejuvenate my inspiration. So I treated myself to a mindfulness weekend. I would love to share some mindfulness exercises with you that I learned and that are really valuable and special to me. And that are really easy to integrate into everyone’s daily life.
Mindfulness is one of those fashionable terms that you see being used just about everywhere. I did a quick Google search, but the huge amount of hits made my head spin. I didn’t want to go to a monastery and wasn’t looking for something that was very spiritual. Fortunately a good friend of mine had heard positive reviews of Lighthouse works. The weekend program contained yoga, meditation, mindfulness workshops and guided walks. And the weekend was in a really good location, in the middle of the forest, in a luxurious spa hotel ;-). I was sold and booked immediately.
Just me, myself and I
Most weekend trips I go on are with my best friends or with my family but I had to go on this weekend alone. It was pretty scary in the beginning, because I didn’t know what to expect and what if I was the only one not that spiritual inclined or yoga minded? Surprisingly (to me), most women were just like me. Modern, hard working, ambitious, in love with life, but also struggling with issues like pleasing others, always wanting more out of life, not aware of the moment we are living in now and always busy with tomorrow. I was so ready for this.
- Life lesson with raisins
After our first yoga class, I had my first mindfulness (and meditation) workshop ever. We learned some of the basics about mindfulness and then we did a funny exercise with raisins. We had to put the raisins in our hand and act like we have never seen a raisin before. “What do you see? How does it feel? How does it smell? What does it sound like when you hold it against your ear? Put the raisin on your lips, how does that feel and when you put it in your mouth, what happens?” Finally we could bite the raisin, but we still had to try and find out what we felt and experienced. It was pretty weird and funny at the same time. I don’t like raisins at all, but because of this exercise, I ate them all and they tasted pretty good. By paying close attention to something, you can feel much more joy. In my case I gave this raisin a chance and I liked it, even though I don’t like raisins at all. Judging things in life can limit your awareness and joy. Life lesson number 1.
- I’m special because…
We also did a lot of one-on-one exercises. And one exercise in particular made me very emotional and made me realize that I’m much more of a giver, than a taker. We had to sit next to each other with our shoulders touching each other, while we both had to face in opposite directions. While we sat there, we had 5 minutes to finish the sentence “I can call myself a special person because…” But we were not allowed to make contact, react or make any sound while the other person was telling their story. It’s called active listening. The story the girl next to me, was telling me was very recognizable to me and made me pretty emotional because she was able to say all those things out loud. She is a beautiful person and she should be happy, instead of feeling guilty or miserable. When it was my turn, I blacked out. I couldn’t speak for the first 2 minutes. I’m not a big fan of expressing my feelings I guess. I’m a much better listener. For the girl next to me it was hard because she could feel how difficult it was for me and the only thing she wanted to do, was comfort me, and put her hand on my shoulder, but she wasn’t allowed to do that. When I was alone in my room later on, I did the exercise again but this time I wrote it down instead of saying the words out loud.
3. Three minute meditation
During the weekend we practiced bodyscan meditation, mountain meditation and a three minute meditation-quickie especially for busy girls like us ;-). Change yourself from being in ‘doing mode’ into ‘being mode’ in 3 minutes by doing the following;
Minute 1: Think about all your thoughts, your mood and how your body is responding to all of that.
Minute 2: Concentrate on your breathing and let all of your thoughts go
Minute 3: Keep focusing on your breathing but slowly you let the environment in. What do you hear, what do you see? Be aware of the moment you are in.
I never thought I would be able to enjoy meditation, to enjoy silent walks (which felt like being at a funeral at first) and to enjoy peace and quiet this much (I turned off my mobile phone). I met beautiful people with different stories and they made me realize that’s okay to be me. And when the weekend was over, I had a hard time with all the noise around me, the messages on my phone and the rat race of life. But now I feel stronger and I’m more aware of my emotions and doubts and I’ve learned to accept my thoughts and feelings. I’m still doing some meditation and I (trying to) live more of my life in the moment. Mission Mindfulness accomplished.
Peace & love