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intentional living

What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

These days, the word 'mindfulness' comes up so much that it seems like more of a buzzword, a word that we should use to feel better somehow. I want to take this moment to share my perspective on what mindfulness means to me, and how I have integrated this concept into my life. Perhaps it will spark some thought about what mindfulness means for you.

There was a time in my life where I coasted through days not fully aware or grateful for all that I had. I never gave too much thought to getting out of bed on my own, or being able to walk down the stairs of my house to make a fresh cup of coffee. I guess I just took it for granted. But those simple things I took for granted are true miracles every day. Walking out of my house to feel the fresh air of a new day, or looking up at the sky to see big fluffy clouds were all things that I never paid attention to because I was too busy going to work or stressed out about life circumstances. My body was more reactive than proactive back then. 

It took a major car accident to help me understand the concept of mindfulness. In 2013, my car hydroplaned on I-40 in North Carolina, and was hit by three cars and an 18-wheeler head on. I will never forget seeing the truck driving towards me at 50+ miles per hour while I was sitting in my car, virtually helpless. I scrolled through the rolodex of my life in my mind and thought, "If I have to go today, I'll be okay. I've done everything I could have possibly done for my life up to this moment." My car was an absolute accordion, but I walked out of my car that night in complete and utter shock that I didn't have a scratch on me. 


How many moments do we go through life without awareness of our surroundings? 


Everyday (since that day) I wake up with enthusiasm for all that I am lucky enough to have in this world. I have a food, clothing, shelter, family and friends. I have the ability to take walks, to look up at the sky with awe and wonder like a little kid, and to taste food that I choose to eat (among many other things). My senses are alive, and I am happy without a doubt. 

It's this level of awareness that has sparked passion for what I do. It's this type of mindfulness that has elevated my passion for life, and how I interact with people at home and abroad. I try my best to let go of petty misunderstandings as humanly possible, because it's just not worth it in the end. 

Mindfulness has been the first step to making more thoughtful decisions in my life. For me, practicing mindfulness has translated into a healthier way to live, love, and forgive. 

The art of mindfulness starts by asking yourself this one question: what is one thing you are grateful for each day? Don't wait for a big circumstance in your life to take place to shift priorities. Make time to appreciate all that you have right now, in this moment. 

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

This article was originally posted on Pink Pangea's site here. 

I cannot pinpoint the moment I began to look for writing retreats the summer of 2016, I just knew my soul needed to find a deeper sense of purpose through prose. Tremendous loss factored into my decision to look for personal inspiration. My mother passed away unexpectedly on February 2, 2016 from a heart attack. I am a huge proponent of experiencing life to the fullest, but her sudden death sent a jolt of sadness and reality to my system; I was reminded once again about the value and fragility of life. I needed to awaken my inner fears.

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

 

I love to express myself through words, but I never attended a retreat, never had taken a writing class, and never had traveled with women I did not know. Yet, the sense of community reflected through stories from previous Pink Pangea participants aligned with what I was intuitively searching for. I made the commitment to attend the Costa Rica retreat six months prior to the trip, also something out of character for me. I am a big last minute adventure traveler.

On a cold Saturday morning in Washington DC, I woke up at 3:50 in preparation to go to National Airport; my carryon full of yoga pants, swim suits, journals, and passport in hand. Pure nostalgia ran through my veins in anticipation for this new experience. I had a quick layover in Miami, and could not stop smiling a big cheesy smile walking past the LOVE & PEACE sign at the airport. I was almost in Costa Rica! As the plane landed in San Jose, I was overwhelmed with nervous emotion. How was the week going to unfold? Would our expectations be met? Would we all get along? Why did we decide to make this commitment to come to this retreat? 

This experience exceeded my expectations in every plausible way.

Every morning I woke up to a vibrant sunrise ready to start my day with a yoga class that overlooked glorious mountains, and every night I soaked in a hot tub watching the sunset in a tropical oasis. Each day was filled with copious amounts of fresh food, a plentiful selection of herbal teas, luscious fruit, and thoughtful conversation. On Friday, the last day of this magical retreat I sat on a hammock to absorb all the experiences I had embraced. I felt like I became a better version of myself; I came to Costa Rica with an open heart and an open mind. I was ready to find greater meaning in my life, to invest in myself, to breathe for serenity, to take my writing to the next level. I flipped through my journal to see how the week transformed my inner and outer being. At our first orientation session, we were asked to complete this prompt: “When I see myself writing I see…” I wrote: “I see potential to impact others but there’s a barrier of fear in my mind.” After less than a week some of those barriers dissipated into the clear blue Costa Rican sky. I asked myself, “Why?”

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

 

I had the opportunity to write about thought provoking topics personal to my heart in a paradise that embraced self-reflection and encouraged vulnerability. I read my writing in a space where critique was constructive and where I trusted peers for whom I had the utmost respect. I distinctly remember the day we wrote about “A Woman’s Worth.” I described my Mother’s journey from Bangladesh to the United States in the 1970s. Towards the end of sharing my story about her, I burst out in tears of joy and sadness. I could not believe that I had written words that possessed such raw emotion. It was incredible.

When I was not writing, the warmth of the air along with the sound of palm trees swaying in the wind guided my intention to stay in the present moment. I was free from daily responsibility, free from external noise, free from fear.

Above all else, what made this experience in Costa Rica memorable were the people. When I booked this trip, I did not realize that I would be at this retreat on February 2nd, the one year anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Yet, the ability to be my true self and to be comforted by newfound friends gave me the courage I needed to move forward in my life and through my writing.

I have transferred so much of what I learned in Costa Rica into my daily life; enough to conquer the world with all I can offer. I just needed the right opportunity to discover my fearlessness.

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

How to Set a Mantra to Find Your Truth

How to Set a Mantra to Find Your Truth

Mantras are deeply rooted in various eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. An active practice of repeating a sound or phrase over and over, mantras unlock power in each of us seeking truth.

Whatever lifestyle choice you choose, we all are seeking truth. Whether you are living the traveler, entrepreneurial, or 9-5 lifestyle, we are all using our experiences to come to some understanding of truth. Often, the road will get difficult. You will fail, or feel lonely, or feel like you just can’t do it. Setting a mantra will give you something to come back to, to focus on, and to find strength in.

While this seems simple in theory, in practice, the work is hard. Setting your mantra can be seemingly unapproachable. Sitting with your mantra can be uncomfortable.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW. GIVE YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO BE STRONG.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW. GIVE YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO BE STRONG.


Here are 5 ways to create a mantra to find your truth:

1. Be inspired: Mantras are a deeply personal experience but being inspired by other people’s mantras allows you to play with different mantras. Whether you start by chanting “om” or borrow words from others that you feel drawn to, playing with various mantras can help you find something that speaks to your inner truth.

2. Allow your mantra to serve you: My (current) mantra is “I am enough”. It comes from a place where I often feel like I am not enough. Turning to my mantra in moments of self-defeat often changes my perception and helps me shift my mindset to one that is encouraging and empowering. By changing the way you speak to yourself, you allow yourself to show yourself kindness.

 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOLD YOURSELF YOU WERE ENOUGH? 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOLD YOURSELF YOU WERE ENOUGH? 

 

3. Commit to a mantra: Your first mantra may not be the best one, but commit to it for a few days. Settle with it. You will find that sticking to a mantra, even for a short time, allows you to go deeper inside the mantra. Sometimes all you need is to know that a mantra is available to you, even if its not your mantra.

4. Repetition: One of the best mentors I have ever had tells her students to repeat their mantra 20 times to themselves and to come back come back to it if their mind wanders. Tell yourself something true, forgive yourself if you lose it, and come back to it. Repeat this. How beautiful is that practice?

5. Live your mantra: In the moments that life is hard or you feel overwhelmed, know your mantra is within you. You can come back to it at any moment. You only need the permission of yourself to go back to it. Live your mantra and your mantra will come alive.

GO FIND YOUR TRUTH. YOU CAN DO THIS!

GO FIND YOUR TRUTH. YOU CAN DO THIS!


Mantras work in mysterious ways, but remain open to the possibility that your mantra will be there when you need it. The work that you today on your mantra will build the foundation for your life tomorrow.

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Need help setting your mantra? Reach out to Jennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions