The last 5 months of our French sabbatical were spent in the small ski village called Chamonix. Think idyllic picture postcard perfection – snow covered stone chalets surrounded by awe inspiring snow topped mountains. When we arrived back in Australia late April, we were feeling pretty chilled (no pun intended). Whilst I was sad to leave France, I had found my peace with ending this chapter of our lives and I noticed myself feeling very present with being back in Oz and curious as we moved into the next chapter(s) of our life adventure.
Did I mention that I noticed how present I was?
I was noticing things – the gum trees and their subtle hues of green and pink.
The incredibly beautiful autumn colours.
The sounds of kookaburras.
The smell in the air.
I revelled in the early morning sunrises (a treat to see the horizon after months of being surrounded by The Alps).
I explored with great curiosity the rocks at the beach, the colour and texture of the sand, the smell and sensation of the waves as they washed over my feet during my walks along the seam where the ocean meets the land.
I noticed my mind was calm and quiet.
I noticed myself in awe of the little things – feeling appreciative and grateful.
I noticed myself feeling happy to feel this way: Connected, relaxed and centred.
In July, we moved back into our home and the pace changed. There were boxes to be unpacked. There were rooms to be organised. There were appliances to be fixed. There were services to be connected. There were issues with the Internet. There were responsibilities at school. There were tensions with “being back” but things being different. There were conversations to be had about settling back into school – new friendships and subjects, teachers and excursions. There were so many things that needed to be attended to and that wonderful feeling that came from being present to the beauty started to shift into being present to the increasing pace and a strong sense of overwhelm and duty. I started to notice myself falling into the struggle.
Time to pause and be with what is, or was. But what was, wasn’t, well, peaceful. It was a little mundane and dare I say, tedious. And I wasn’t feeling so calm. Nor in awe. What had changed? How could I ‘get back there’?
Time to pause and look deeper.
And that is when the magic happened. I saw the attachment to the idea of being in a perennial state of blissful zen perfection. And whilst I had noticed the feelings of reacting to what was unfolding day-by-day, moment-by-moment, what was missing was the curiosity and the awe for what I was being present to in the first place, instead, I was striving for it to be different.
Hmmm. Interesting. Time to be more present and observant.
Our state of mind is influenced by our response/reaction to our environment, our mind’s conscious and unconscious thoughts in response to what it is experiencing and our physical state (posture etc). What we know from Neuro semantics is that we can “work the system”, that is if we identify the triggers that are unconsciously at work influencing our state, we can bring them into conscious thinking and actively trigger them.
You may have experienced this when you put on your favourite music or eat your favourite food – you expect to feel a certain way afterwards because of how your mind responds to the sensations. A series of chemical reactions take place and bam, you feel happy, satisfied, etc.
So how does this fit with being with what is and not striving for things to be different? Well, I’m glad you asked.
It’s a balance.
Its about being OK with the ambiguity.
Its about being aware of what works to make us feel good, but then being aware of our propensity to get attached to things being the way that we want, all the time. Its about being aware of maintaining our ability to stay flexible and flow with what unfolds in our lives, whilst at the same time consciously striving for our goals, as opposed to unconsciously striving as if on automatic pilot.
So, back to my story… I consciously resumed a practice of being curious, being appreciative, grateful and accepting of what was happening. And, I was mindful of not striving in this process to create “something else”, just being present and curious. I start each day with wonder for what the day will bring, who will I meet, what will unfold that isn’t part of my plan. I let go my expectations, but move towards my goals. Some times I forget and get caught by an expectation not being met, but then I remember, smile at myself and return to the practice.
I notice myself feeling more centred.
I notice myself feeling less reactive and more responsive.
I notice myself feeling happier.
I notice myself feeling less attached.
I notice myself being OK with the chaos.
Mindfullness is one of the many meditation styles taught in Turn Up Your Zen. For details of the program visit the events page.