Life is stressful and it’s so easy to lose sight and get caught up in the hustle and bustle of fast living. Everything we do can have such an impact on our stress levels and it can affect us in ways we don’t know or understand. You should never underestimate the effects stress can have on your body and your mind.
A few years ago I was constantly stressed. I was stressed about my finances, about my life and about my future. I was too busy panicking about the future that I completely forgot to live in the present. I missed so many opportunities, moments and memories, because I let stress about my future life dictate my present life. A friend told me that she had been on a mindfulness course to help her let go of her stress. And it worked. She looked more serene than I had ever seen her before. I figured if it worked for her I should try it too.
Mindfulness is all about enlightenment, and being aware of the present. I use a combination of yoga, meditation and activities to help me become mindful. I also wouldn’t describe it as a goal. There is no definitive end result, or accomplishment. It’s a journey to enlightenment, and it takes all of your life. I am constantly reminding myself that I need to use the techniques to help me be mindful, especially when there’s a major life event coming, or something really stressful and unexpected.
I try to mediate, and do some yoga in the morning, which does help set me up for the day, but the long weekends and evenings were and are a bit of a problem for me. This is when I’m most likely to fall into my old habits of stress, worry, panic, and feeling like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders because I missed an email or phone call. I knew I needed to do something to remind myself at these times what being mindful meant, and what life was really about.
Someone told me about how they were really into stand up paddle boarding. It was a great activity for keeping fit, and seeing the world from a whole new perspective. I found the video below on Youtube.com and I thought I’d give paddle boarding mindfulness a try because it looked like it could be a fantastic way for me to keep being mindful. I couldn’t have been more right.
Stand up paddle boarding is one of the most things I have ever tried in my life. It was amazing. I rounded up a few friends and encouraged them to come with me, and we had the best day. We found and instructor who taught us the basics of paddle boarding, how to stand up, how to steer, how to ride the waves, and as I learned, I realized that so much of what he was saying could be applied to mindfulness too.
When you paddle board, you don’t look down. You watch the horizon. I realized that the same is true for mindfulness. The minute details aren’t important. It’s the big picture and the moment that are important.
I needed to learn to adapt to the wave. I needed to use my core strength, but adapt it to ride out the wave. I need to apply this in every day life as well. I need to be mindful of adapting to the situation as it happens. I couldn’t anticipate what it would be like to ride one particular wave until I was doing it, and I can’t anticipate every situation in my life until it’s happening.
I was so very nervous on my first try that most of the time I’d hold my breath. I didn’t realize that I was doing it until one of my friends told me. I took some deep breaths and relaxed. Once I had relaxed, I found myself looking around at the scenery, and how picturesque it was, listening to my friends laughter, and living in the moment.
I’ve been paddle boarding a few more times since then, and I have been getting better. I’m not going to be trying yoga on a paddle board just yet like others can, but I am improving. Every time I go it has the same effect on me. It reminds me that the things I spend the week worrying and stressing out about just aren’t that important. And that I find spirituality, mindfulness, serenity and calm in living in the moment, enjoying the view and forgetting the minutiae. I know I need to remind myself to be mindful, but paddle boarding in the sun on beautiful water, looking at the most stunning imagery nature has to offer, it absolutely helps.