These summer mornings, with the air so luscious you can drink it, and the abundance of the natural world a green riot everywhere, I feel filled up with gratitude and wonder. That sense of being completely present to an exquisite moment is a very delicious feeling and not common enough. Too often, we are distracted from our bliss by the imperfection of circumstances, by some pain or physical challenge, or by an emotional tension- sadness, anger, fear, depression, anxiety- that whole gamut of icky draining feelings which can take over and run the show. Wisdom tells us that the key to happiness is cultivating mindfulness, or the ability to dim the clamor of the distractions and tune in more deeply to our one, precious moment.
One of my most helpful tools is an acupuncture treatment. A good practitioner can help me connect to inner resources, so that the distractions, be they emotional, physical, or circumstantial, don’t claim my attention as much. I can be less bothered by what is wrong, and put more energy into healing, changing the circumstances, calming the nervous system, and deciding how best to cope. As well as appreciating all the gifts and blessings that abound. As an acupuncturist, I love helping people get to a place where they can enjoy life more. I am so grateful that acupuncture is widely available, and even more, that I get to practice this ancient art.
Spending time in nature is a sure fire way to get back to the moment. Noticing what is present in the world around us, the goldfinches flocking to the tree with a commotion of twittering, the lily opening to delicate beauty, the wind ruffling the aspen leaves into a moving pattern of color and shade, everything helps to bring our own personal reality into perspective. Nature has rhythm and cycles and it is very helpful to remember that everything is transitory and brief. We have to seize each moment and appreciate it and recognize that the painful experiences will soon pass and change, and the moments of wellbeing can be deepened with mindful appreciation.
It is not an easy thing to maintain equanimity these days. The political and economic climate can be so frightening that we all suffer. There is a lot of misery, grief, loss, and fear in the world. But we can still take precious moments and enjoy them deeply, appreciating this miracle of being alive, despite the challenges. The more filled up we are, the more capacity we have to serve. And we can do whatever is possible to enhance our experience so that we can share joy and light. The world needs this. Our personal wellbeing is a small but important contribution.
Finding a way to be there for others is an essential aspect of a balanced life. Many of us dedicate a big part of our lives to giving to our family or to a profession that serves. Some of us find great joy in volunteering and donate to organizations that make a difference. For some people, giving is the norm, and taking in for oneself is the challenge. This balanced flow of giving and receiving is part of the Earth Element in Chinese Medicine and again it can help so much to look to nature for its models. We have to fertilize and water our own souls before we can share our true abundance with the world, and it is our job to find our source of renewal, so that we can overflow to others rather than depleting our own reserves.
A practice is widely recognized as a path to mindfulness. Whether it is meditation, asana, pranayama, or a creative endeavor, bringing yourself routinely to a place of surrender cultivates the ability to give yourself to the moment. I am not a daily practice kind of kid, as I love a life with the flexibility to do different things at different times, so instead, I have things I do each week and they include a yoga class, a weekly mastermind call, a writing group, a singing group, a forest walk, and these days- a cool plunge in the cold sound every day that I can. The combination of these things on a regular basis works for me to bring a wider world into my being so that my being can expand beyond distractions into a sense of wellbeing.
The other thing that helps me so much is to have an adventure planned that I can look forward to. Something that stretches me and is fulfilling and satisfying, something that lets my heart smile, that lets my wild soul feel acknowledged. I have been so blessed to connect with amazing opportunities for travel and learning. I love the chance to experience how others live and to take in the richness and variety of exotic cultures and different environments. If you enjoy unusual adventures, consider joining me on the fabulous upcoming trip- Oaxaca, the Magic and the Medicine, Jan 19-30. I can’t speak highly enough about this journey. It is a chance to really shift to a deep sense of gratitude, blessed by so many things at once- the exploration of a beautiful land, the enjoyment of wonderful food, lovely places, and interesting stories, the safety of an intimate group, the laughter and fun of shared joy, and the prayers and intentions of the healers we work with along the way. Check it out!
Coming up soon, also, is a fabulous retreat to Kauai to immerse ourselves in the culture of aloha. More details soon.