Walking meditation

IMG_8520_ns

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #132

Last Monday with some friends we did a walking meditation, 20 minutes of very slow walking in a small park in the city, focussing carefully on each step, lifting my foot, moving it forward, the shifting my balance, placing it down, trying to feel every part of the movement.
It had just rained, the air was fresh. After a while it became like a trance, sometimes managing to block out the noise of traffic around.  I became more aware of everything around me. The wet grass at my feet, the drops of water on a seesaw, beautiful roses of different colours and the way tiny caterpillars were roaming on their petals. The goal of the exercise was not to focus on the caterpillars but they were very cool, bobbing their little heads up and down.

I felt so calm when we were finished.  It reminded me of how often I am caught up in a rush to get from A to B, and how much there is to feel and see when we are in first gear instead of at full speed. I am grateful for these lovely mindfulness sessions and deep connection with a bunch of kind and open friends. It was amazing to share this experience together and get back in touch with my meditation practise.

Counter-intuitive

IMG_7609

Lately I’ve been noticing a pattern whereby when I react to things counter-intuitively, I am positively surprised by the ease of the outcome. In the spirit of my words of the year IT WILL WORK, here are some examples to remind myself when I am tempted to go back into autopilot!

  • When I have lots of things to do and start to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, my tendency is to panic and tackle random tasks immediately like a headless chicken, leading only to more stress.
    Instead, when I stop, go for a walk to get some fresh air, have a nap or read a book, I find that after I am better able to prioritise and that there is always plenty more time to do things later.  Taking some distance, then focusing on the most important next task creates space for the rest (and it turns out lots of things are less urgent than they seem!)
  • When I feel an emotion I don’t like, such as sadness or anger, my go-to reaction is ignore and numb it, filling my thoughts with anything as long as I don’t have to feel it.
    Instead, I am trying to become more aware of the emotion, to lean in and feel the feelings and be curious about what triggered it. Usually if I just acknowledge it, the emotion will disappear surprisingly fast as the next one comes along.
  • When my inner voice is telling me that I am letting people down or I worry that I am not enough, I just want to retreat and avoid people.
    Instead if I have a chat with a friend or a colleague, I’m always reminded of our shared humanity, that I am OK just as I am however much (or however little) I am able to do. Turns out others don’t have unrealistic expectations of me like my inner-critic does.

I’m curious if there are other counter-intuitive reactions you have come across. Please share in the comments, I’d love to read about it! 🙂

Dreaming up the new year

img_7674

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #113

Last weekend, with a few dear friends we spent the afternoon reflecting on last year and making dream boards for the new year.  A calm afternoon, hot tea and coffee in our mugs, accompanied by delicious vegan (and not-so-vegan) cakes as we sat around the kitchen table. It was great fun to look back at the dream boards we made together a year ago, discussing the words we had chosen for the year and how reality had panned out.  We celebrated the successes and achievements of the past year, and acknowledged the tough stuff that happened too.

Afterwards we got quiet cutting out pictures and words from tattered magazines that have been cut out from many times over and pasting the colourful images and inspirational snippets to create new dream boards…

I am so grateful for these lovely friends who embrace the dream board concept with joy, and who inspire me so much with their stories, dreams, perseverance and achievements.  Just spending a few hours together really energised me, we could simply be ourselves and dream up all sorts of wild ideas for 2019, manifesting our desires visually and calling in synchronicity and support from the universe:) I can’t wait to see what this year brings us all!

Birthday celebration

IMG_6422

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #90

I feel deeply grateful to have celebrated my birthday with my community of lovely friends yesterday. It was a heart-warming evening, full of joy for life and great humour, around delicious hummus and good beers at the amazingly laid-back brewery the Butchers Tears.

I am so appreciative of how my friends respect my aversion for materialistic presents and came up with creative solutions to spoil me regardless, with wonderful experience gifts like delicious food, cards, a drawing, poetry and vouchers for quality time to spend together:) I look forward to many more celebrations together!

An interesting read

IMG_4941

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #75

Today let me share this article that I really enjoyed reading this week and basically put words on what I often feel. Every time I have a tough time at work or something is bothering me, I have a tendency to daydream about taking a sabbatical and exploring far away lands imagining that that would solve all my problems;) Of course I love traveling and will continue to do so, however on a day-to-day basis I want to make sure I remember the concept of ‘the box of daily experience’ and improving the way I experience it, since this is much more accessible and rewarding than constant travel.

Writing JOYFUL GRATITUDE has definitely helped my box of daily experience feel fluffier, as I regularly pay more attention to the things that are readily available such as

Seeing Amsterdam with fresh eyes

20170812_163959JOYFUL GRATITUDE #40

A great thing about having dear friends over from abroad is that you get to explore your city with fresh eyes.  It was a wonderful weekend of walking around different neighbourhoods, having lovely talks over steaming bowls of ramen, cycling for kilometers past cute farmhouses along the Amstel and soaking in the atmosphere of a sparkly daytime dj persevering despite the rain…

The last time these friends visited me was in 2006 just a few weeks after I first moved to Amsterdam. So much has changed around Amsterdam since then, practically none of this skyline seen from NDSM was as it is today. I’m so grateful for living in this amazing city that keeps evolving and that I get to rediscover all the time:)

Sending snail mail

IMG_1454
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #28

Though I love receiving postcards and letters, I think I enjoy sending them even more! The idea of the recipient opening their mailbox to find something other than bills and junk mail for a change makes me very happy. So last weekend I took some time to write some postal mail to a few friends around the world.

Here’s my ritual. First I select a card or find some paper to write on (once on the Camino I didn’t have any paper so I just ripped out a few blank pages from the novel I was reading to write a letter, really anything will do).  I settle quietly and think of the person I’m writing to before jotting down a few words, it doesn’t have to be long. Then I attempt to write the address as legibly as possible, and stick on a stamp or two (bonus points for lovely stamps:).

Remembering to post the envelopes is usually my struggle as I tend to carry them around in my bag for a few days by mistake before I finally send them off on their way…  The uncertainty of when (and whether?) the postal mail will arrive is a large part of the magic of sending postal mail.

*****

Simple tips for writing more snail mail:

  • buy nice postcards or greeting cards when you see them in shops, having them handy at home makes it so much easier and quicker to write one
  • always have a stock stamps in the house, this saves the effort of having to go out to buy them specifically
  • write postal mail in batches of a few postcards/letters at a time for increased efficiency and satisfaction