Before I went away to Thailand a few years ago my sister gave me some sage advice for when I was out there:
"Every now and then just stop. Take a breath. Look at where you are. Take in the moment and enjoy it."
And I did. When I look back a few moments come to mind that are firmly locked in my memory. One of those moments wasn't even particularly special - we were in the back of a bus on our way to the Tiger Temple, and I stopped, looked around at the scenery and thought to myself 'holy shit, I'm in frickin Thailand!!' and I just felt a huge wave of happiness.
This Sunday I fly out to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks to do yoga, learn how to take better pictures and explore a new country. While I'm out there I'm going to make sure I do this, take in every moment and be mindful as often as possible.
I'm a big believer in the concept of mindfulness in general. Allow me to put on my 'work' hat for a minute... many studies have found mindfulness to be an effective tool for stress, anxiety and depression.
I've downloaded several apps to try and get in the habit of mindfulness meditation, and while I have never managed to build a habit, I get the gist and use it when I'm feeling anxious or apprehensive.
And the thing is, I will feel apprehensive before I travel. I hate the process of travelling. I know I will be fine when I get to where I'm going, but flying alone, changing planes at Madrid and rocking up to an unfamiliar country where I know no one is a little scary to me.
So I want to be mindful at this point too. Instead of getting lost in 'what if' thoughts about the future ('what if I get lost and miss my connecting flight?' 'what if no one arrives to pick me up at the airport?') I will take everything one step at a time and focus on the present. I will enjoy having time to read/listen to podcasts on the plane. I will focus on my feelings of excitement. I will breathe and I will be OK.
Then I'll get there, see the sunshine and be mindful again because, holy shit - I'm in frickin Costa Rica!!!!
I won't be blogging while I'm out there, but I will definitely post a picture-heavy blog when I get back... until then, here's to living in the moment :)