Skip to main content

Mindful Journey

"The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers."  ~ Thich Nhat Hahn




Different words for the same event which are basically opportunities to get away from it all. You figure out where to go, pack your bags, find a dog sitter (well I do anyways) and off you go. You have a specific amount of time ahead of you to explore, relax, or if you are really lucky, a combination of both.

I went on a journey recently. I am calling it a journey rather than a trip or vacation, because I learned something from the six days I got to leave my home. Our journey consisted of spending a few days in Portland, Maine and then exploring back roads through New Hampshire and Vermont on our way to upstate New York to visit Chuck's two sisters. We didn't initially plan it this way but we knew we wanted to be in both Maine and New York during his one week off from work and due to health reasons, the eight hour trip was too much for me to do in one day. So that is why we ended up making an adventure out of it. The only definitive plans we had before we got on the road was to participate in a tugboat event for the MS Society and visit his sisters towards the latter part of the trip. That was it. Everything else was based on what we felt like doing when we woke up that day. No expectations, no schedule.  It worked out perfectly because not only did this plan allow for a lot of flexibility in the managing of my autoimmune disorder, but also because it gave me the opportunity to experience the concept of mindfulness.

According to Sylvia Boorstein, mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. I think that is a great definition but I also like to think of it simply as being present or aware. I don't think I am alone in the fact that I have wasted a lot of time worrying about the future and over planning things. Being present or aware in the moment you are experiencing doesn't allow for worry or planning. For years and years, I thought it was the only way to manage my anxiety. But the reality was, the worrying was creating more anxiety.

It is not an easy thing to do, to be mindful of your present and fully absorb your surroundings as well as your thoughts and feelings in that moment. That is why taking a journey is such a great opportunity to do so. In our normal day to day lives, there are so many distractions. For us, the first distraction that was eliminated was Chuck not having to work for nine days. Add to that the elimination of distractions such as maintaining a home, taking care of a dog, managing my multiple medical issues/appointments, church and social commitments and what I found was that I got to be present in moments with him and oftentimes with just myself every day that week. When we came across one of the most beautiful lighthouses I ever could have imagined seeing in Maine, I was fully aware of everything about it from the smell of the ocean water hitting the rocks to the sound of the seagulls flying overhead. Instead of just touring the lighthouse and its stunning surroundings, I was fully experiencing it. I was aware and in the moment.

As Ms. Boorstein states above, sometimes accepting and receiving an experience is not always pleasant. I ran into a situation like that during our journey when I experienced an asthma/allergy flare up one night that was probably the most significant I have had in over a year. One that almost landed me in an emergency room that night. The fact that it was happening so far from home and at such a late hour had the potential to throw me into a tailspin and exacerbate the situation. But I was mindful. I accepted what was happening to me and made changes to accommodate the circumstances. Being mindful enabled me to think clearly enough to make decisions about how to manage the breathing issues without panicking. Yes, between that night and half of the next day, the event did have an impact on what I could and could not do, but I accepted it and moved on. The end result was that not only was I able to finish our journey, but I enjoyed it as well.

I think that mindfulness is essential for not only ourselves, but for our relationships as well. During our time away, it started to become more apparent to me how often I am distracted from being in the moment with my boyfriend when we are home. Sometimes this is unavoidable. A friend calls asking for help or the dog is not feeling well and needs a closer eye. Life gets busy, but it is important that when we are engaged in something together whether it be a conversation or a project, that I am present with him in that moment. I have to be because I will never get that exact moment back. That is not to say that there is not a place for those mindfulness thieves such as television, Facebook, and my Droid phone, but each activity deserves its own mindfulness and a limited amount of it at that. My boyfriend, family, friends, and dog are all much too important to not have me fully present in the moment with them rather than being distracted by all of our modern technology.

When we learn to be more mindful, the moments in our lives become richer. Our relationships take on a different perspective. Whether you call it being mindful, present, or aware, acknowledging our experiences in the present moment essentially helps guide us towards the path of living our lives to the absolute fullest. And well, you can't really go wrong with that now can you?

Photo: Courtesy of Chuck Myers


  1. Thanks for this one. It's a good reminder that we all need to take time to pay attention. As Ferris Bueller said "Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!" Char

  2. Interesting that you posted about this topic, as I have been focusing on this a lot myself. K

  3. K ~ You know what they say about great minds thinking alike and all.... ;-)

  4. Wonderful post, Christine! In the past few years, I've become more and more aware of my surroundings..noticing and fully enjoying the little things in life....Even the steam rising up from a hot cup of coffee! So, I guess that would be called "being aware"...but maybe not "mindfulness" ? I'm very intrigued by this and will continue to learn more! Thanks for sharing with us, Christine!

  5. Becky ~ Yes, being "aware" and being "mindful" are different yet very similar. Good luck with your quest for being more mindful and thank you for reading!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

After careful consideration and a lot of research, I made a decision after the holidays to embark on a cleanse/detox. I will start by saying that I have never done anything like this before, mostly because I don't believe in fad diets, or any diet for that matter, and also because I'm not sure, with all my health issues, how good it would be for my body.

However, I had been having some new digestive issues and some of my other autoimmune symptoms were acting up sporadically here and there. I also really overdid it and made some consistently bad food choices over the holidays and I was trying to get my food cravings under control. The digestive issues were not anything severe that impaired my daily living, but I am slightly paranoid about my family history of ovarian cancer and I am at the age my mom was when she was diagnosed. The most overlooked and under recognized symptoms of ovarian cancer are the digestive issues I was having such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Sinc…

Low Dose Naltrexone

In my last blog entry I discussed my current experiences with an integrative medicine doctor. (Going Down the Road of Integrative Medicine). In that entry, I mentioned a new medication I was prescribed by this doctor called low dose naltrexone (LDN) and I think that it is worthy of its very own blog entry so here we go. Be forewarned, it's a bit complicated...

Since we have the modern day miracle of Google, I am not going to spend a lot of time describing LDN and exactly how it works, but I think there are some basics that are important. Naltrexone is a medication that was created in the late 1970's as a treatment for heroin overdose and subsequently used in larger doses (50-300 mg) to treat heroin addicts. It blocks the opiate receptors in our body, which are also found on immune system cells. The next discovery, in the 1980's, was that naltrexone at lower doses (hence why it is called low dose naltrexone), blocks these opioid receptors and increases the endorphin level…

Sjogren's and Disability

I have been reading a lot of posts of the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Facebook page lately about disability for this disorder. People seem to have a lot of questions and comments not only about the process itself of obtaining disability, but also about the journey which is at best, extremely stressful. Having gone through the arduous process myself, I thought it might be helpful to blog about my experience in the hope that someone may find the information useful or at the very least, know that they are not alone in their struggles and frustration with getting through this system.

My journey with disability began in 2008 when I was put on short term disability through my former employer. After a period of time (I believe it was ninety days), it converted to long term disability which was a benefit I had elected through my employer, thank god. What that meant was that a private disability company, contracted through my employer, paid me sixty percent of my previous year's gro…