I spent 4 days with an amazing group of people. Strangers to me when I walked into the room, friends when I left. We shared a profound experience. Something none of us had really expected. Even though there were veterans in the room, no-one was an expert in the journey we would take together.

Some of us were skeptical. We were the most difficult customers. We had put up big walls of defense. It is not easy to break them down. You might have even thought we were cynical. We had been sold to before and we were not buying. When we volunteered to speak, we did so with reservation. We had our guards up.

Other people had been badly treated and had no problems sharing. Or maybe the process made them just as uncomfortable, but they were brave. They had deep wounds. It brought tears to the eyes of many. Why did so many have to suffer at the hands of others?

Once the layers started to peel away, there was a reset. The only way forward was to set aside everything which kept our minds closed. This is more easily said than done. It is rather difficult to escort an idea out of the mind. Imagining something new into existence is somewhat easier. The balance tips from one side to other, keeping everyone level as the mental housekeeping progresses.

The only thing I missed was an emphasis on food and drink. For me, these elements are critical to living fully. I don’t blame anyone for this oversight. Getting this right is extremely difficult. However, it is no less important to wellbeing or wellness than the rest of the pillars we focused on. It is logistically more challenging to dig into the reasons we eat what we do. This is treading on some kind of core belief which many of us will defend with a vengeance.

Instead our time was spent learning the full lifestyle of yoga. Included in the definition was an inverted triangle with yoga at the top, then meditation and at the very bottom, in short supply was mindfulness. In the ancient tradition, yoga was used as a means to prepare the body for the stillness required for meditation. Once the mind has been made quiet, mindfulness is more accessible.

There does not seem to be a straight shot to arrive at mindfulness. Despite what the self-help books promise, we are not wired for mindfulness as a normal state. Instead, our daily life seems to center around a very busy schedule with long lists of things to accomplish. This puts our brains on high alert where the fight or flight response is activated, for most of a typical day.

Moving our brains into a more mindful state becomes a huge challenge for most of us. The benefits of change are not clear and the time it takes to feel the difference from our normal state of living, is long. Much like making a change to our diets, the road is long, winding and often too challenging to follow. We give up.

As the hours ticked by, we circled back to basic principles. There was an honest effort to underscore the importance of the 3 practices, but for me, the practical link to my daily life was thin. Not that I couldn’t see what the benefits would be. My bigger concern was, how do I incorporate what I have learned? What can I give up, to make room for these habits? I don’t presently have any gaps in my daily schedule. I know what I am doing for almost every minute of the day.

Finding time to incorporate a new practice may seem like a weak excuse, meant to conveniently get out of doing something new. Maybe it is. I once heard a friend say that, “his friend quota was full.” He knew how many relationships he could manage, he was realistic about how far he could spread himself.

Being overscheduled is a thing, very common to our modern lives. Yet, if money were no object, we could rearrange our schedules in a heartbeat. The ways which we choose to spend our time are much more flexible than we think. Separating our commitments from the ways which we waste time is the same kind of exercise as defining the difference between wants and needs. We can be very bad at knowing the difference and then even worse at making necessary changes to our behavior.

Circling back to the 3 practices of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, there might be an answer to the time crunch problem. By bringing awareness to our struggles and clearing our mind of other competing thoughts, we are much better able to find solutions. That is all fine and well, but how to get started in the 3 practices in the first place? It can be a catch 22.

One of tricks we learned was to shortcut the yoga practice and simply spend an incredibly short period of time in meditation. Even 5 minutes of intentional listening, both in our minds and in our bodies. If a person can recognize what is blocking them from being present in the moment, then it can be cleared from the mind. The effort is to identify the problem, commit to living in the moment fully and then let back in whatever needs to be solved afterwards. This is a small but mighty practice.

By learning the technique of clearing the mind to be present in the moment, being intentional in everything we do, I have found a greater level of calm than I have ever known. When I feel the wave of frustration start rise like fast water flowing through a narrow channel, I open up my mind to accept the feeling. In doing so the weight of negativity dissipates. I can always bring it back later if I choose to do so. It is never far away.

Sometimes it takes a few minutes to be fully present, but when I manage this state I experience the world around me as if I was a child seeing it for the first time. I can almost hear a yoda like voice in the back of my mind, speaking in a gentle voice. “Worry is not needed here”, or something like that.

In the act of choosing one thought over another my feelings change track. They move towards the positive. For sure, less negative. Then I act in a better way. I communicate with more kindness. All because of how I think.

It is an interesting experiment. I am constantly validating the practice. When something particularly bad is happening and my normal response would be to freak out, I pause and consider a different thought. It is amazing, the power of the mind. The ability to think, feel and act as a cascade of cause and effect, borne of intention, not simple reactions.

#creaspatreat – Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com

My creative year:
: : Developing, testing and enjoying a life I don’t need a vacation from while working in an office and commuting on public transit! 
: : This is where my ideas for creaspatreat will come to life. Don’t miss any of it by joining us!
: : Check out new projects on my youtube channel called creative wandering. #dailycreatives

Published books:
: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power

Daily Creatives Resources:
: : Be brave, it is going to be good
: : Why don’t they teach wellness in school?
: : Teach women, invest in a community
: : Crea.spa.treat. what do you think it means?
: : Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai

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: : Join us!

Christine Westermark

I am a world traveller, lucky enough to have a loving family who support my dreams to learn, create and give back by designing creative content which enables a lifestyle we don't need a vacation from.

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Is yoga a profound experience?

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