Happy Trails

Need peace? Here’s how to start your journey toward a more mindful 2019.

I bought a book recently called Meditation for Beginners. It’s a step-by-step guide offering simple, basic techniques to help me learn to meditate. I’ve only read snatches of it so far and have yet to really focus my efforts. Taking time out of my day to meditate seems like such a luxury. There’s always something else I need to do.

But there’s no question I could use stillness and mindfulness in my life. I think we all can. And health care experts say meditation is a great way to fight stress, the modern ill that plagues us all. Meditating also has health benefits and can lower blood pressure and slow our heart rate, among other things.

So how to begin? Or maybe the better question is where? The cool thing about meditating is you can pretty much do it anywhere. You just need a quiet place, a comfortable mat or chair to sit on, and no distractions. Some people repeat mantras and focus on their breathing to help them become more present in the moment.

But whenever I’ve tried to meditate, my monkey mind becomes a distraction. Thoughts tumble through my brain, and it’s almost impossible to turn them off. The key is letting the thoughts pass by without consciously interacting with them. Like anything else, meditation takes practice, and my goal for 2019 is to schedule regular times to meditate.

Another good way to learn meditation is to attend a group practice (check TW’s calendar of events). Besides the opportunity to meditate, you can also experience community in a group meditation. People say they feel calm and renewed after group meditations and a sense of being spiritually connected.

Maybe meditating isn’t your thing. That’s OK, too. Adding peaceful activities to your schedule can also help you fight stress and discover answers to life’s problems. I find writing in a journal helpful. My journal is a private personal space where I can record my deepest thoughts and keep track of my journey through life.

Sometimes just meeting a friend for a walk in the woods can bring newfound peace to your life. There’s nothing like talking with a dear friend to help you along your path of understanding. Besides that, you get to enjoy being in nature and getting exercise—two things I believe are essential to creating a sense of well being in our lives.

Not long ago I walked the labyrinth at A.R.E. (67th St. in Va. Beach) with my brother and sister-in-law, who were visiting from Sweden. If you’ve never been, the labyrinth is open to the public and offers lovely views of the Atlantic from its hilltop setting.

The idea is to ask a question before you begin the labyrinth, and when you reach the center, be open to answers that may come. I got an answer to my question that afternoon. Maybe it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it gave me plenty to think about as I walked out of the labyrinth.

Afterwards the three of us sat down and shared what the experience meant to us. It was a lovely conversation. It was as if we opened up to each other in new ways, ways that might not have been possible without having taken the mindful walk in the labyrinth.

As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to think about how you’re doing on your mindfulness journey. And if you haven’t started yet, all it takes is a single step.

Happy trails!

Peggy Sijswerda

Tidewater Women Magazine, Editor & Co-Publisher.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com
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