Recently Lisa took a week away to study with a teacher focusing on meditation (particularly mindfulness) and yoga, with a little psychology thrown in for good measure! In this article she talks about what she has gained from some time away and how to keep those good habits going at home.
Eight days, 10 hours of yoga, meditation and learning every day. Good food. Blue skies. Great company with like minded people…. Heaven!
Sometimes it does everyone a power of good to take time out of their busy lives to have time on their own. That time away also provides an opportunity to reflect on life, to reconnect with ourselves, to reassess what is working well and maybe to introduce (or re-introduce!) some new habits.
So, some habits that I came away with….
Each morning we stared with a period of silence and meditation. Each day ended with meditation. I noticed immediately when returning home that my level of concentration had dramatically increased and I found that I was more focused on each task I was doing, getting things completed far quicker than I had before my meditation and yoga break. Mindfulness meditation, watching the breath or sensations, teaches us how to disengage from the monkey mind (that chattering voice in our head that sometimes seems non-stop). Since returning home I have continued to include a daily meditation into my routine, meaning the benefits of this time away are continuing.
My teachers were keen to emphasise that even a period of short meditation is better than no meditation. Sometimes, I felt that I had to sit to meditation for an hour or 30 minutes, which always seemed too much time. However, six or 12 minutes seems easily possible – after all, six minutes is not much out of one whole day? I realised it is about prioritising. I need to prioritise these six (or 12) minutes as important for me to do each day. I created a space for me to sit at home, with my meditation cushion, yoga mat and a few special items around me, so I know the area is always ready. It only took a small corner up in the spare bedroom, and it made it so much easier for me, as I know the space is waiting and ready.
We also spent lots of time deep breathing; softening the muscles (particularly in my tummy) and letting go of emotions that had gotten stuck. Although sometimes the process of letting go was difficult to experience, I left feeling much lighter. Whenever I can now, I check in with my breathing and if I notice my breathing has become shallow (into the upper chest) I consciously direct my breath deeper into my tummy. This deep breathing has an automatic effect of allowing me to relax and to become more centred.
My body felt great, with drinking plenty of water, vegan food, no coffee or sweets, regular walking (through the fields and along the beach), lots of yin and yang yoga and plenty of rest. Being surrounded by like-minded people, who are all interested in health and well-being, and contributing to a warm/friendly/ supportive environment where they live was a joy. Many of these things I am privileged to enjoy at La Crisalida every day of my “normal” life, although sometimes I do not get as much time out in the open, or resting, as I might want!
This week away also reminded me of how wonderful it is to spend time with a teacher, someone who has taken time to learn and grow, and who is still committed to their own personal journey. I made a commitment to myself to take a retreat with a teacher who can help me to explore more deeply an area of interest, at least once each year. I am already looking at booking my next trip!
I also had time during the day to write in my journal. Free writing without censorship; inner thoughts, ideas, dreams, things that were bothering me. Time away reminded me how good this process is to reconnect to the inner me. Since returning I have found pockets of time to continue this.
I learnt (well, re-learnt!) that taking time away in a place of beauty and serenity, with healthy food, exercise and inner reflection, is not just a treat; it is something that we need to do regularly and is greatly beneficial for our health. It also means we can be more centred and present for the people sharing our lives with us. I know that to keep the good habits going takes commitment; a commitment to myself. To say that I am going to look after myself, and know it is only by looking after myself that I can continue to look after others. Finding pockets of time during a busy day is a choice, I can choose to find time for me, or I can tell myself that everything else is more important.
I am thankful that I do what I do and meet such wonderful people every day in such a beautiful environment. Namaste.