I get up early every morning to admire the sunrise. I am a morning person, so this is no hardship. I can never get enough of it, maybe because it never lasts longer than a few minutes. The extravagant beauty of the sunrise in this part of the world is evanescent. The good news is that even though it does not last, it will be back in its full splendour tomorrow morning. For that, I am infinitely grateful.
As you may know, I teach mindfulness. Not because it is the newest trend, but because I believe that mindfulness can make us happier. We spend so much time in the present, fretting about past failures and in the future, worrying about what may happen in the future that the present moment fades into insignificance. So I teach my students to be mindful of the precious present moment, now here, soon gone forever.
I often invite our workshop participants to join me for an early morning walk, to watch the sun come up over the majestic Pyrenées mountain range. In this breathtakingly beautiful part of south-west France, each morning’s spectacular sunrise remains one of the most compelling and profoundly meaningful sights of all.
Why do I find a sunrise here such an intensely emotional experience? Because it floods my whole being, every cell in my body, with gratitude.
Mindfulness is a million times more meaningful in the presence of gratitude.
Being mindful of each individual moment can be beneficial in many different ways. Adding gratitude to the experience amplifies these benefits a million times. In each and every moment we can find something to be grateful for, even if we are simply grateful to be alive.
I do not teach mindfulness during our equine guided mindfulness meditation workshops by lecturing participants. Focussing alternatively and collectively on visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory and gustatory mindfulness, we practice mindfulness together by taking part in a variety of activities: a tutored wine tasting, walking part of the Camino de Santiago, attending a typical Gascon fresh food market, eating a gourmet Gascon dinner, visiting a nearly 1000-year old abbey perched on a hilltop etc.
Mindfulness is a very important part of my workshops, but if there is one thing that I have learned living in this part of the world where inhabitants are famous for their long, happy and healthy lifestyle, it is that balance must be preserved in all things.
Mindfulness is beneficial only when it is balanced by giving equal amounts of attention to the present and the past.
In my humble opinion, our problem is not that we are not mindful enough, but that we are unbalanced. We spend disproportional amounts of time in the future and in the past. The ideal is to spend equal amounts of time
- in the past, to appreciate past events we are grateful for,
- in the present, to appreciate the moments evanescent beauty and what we have here-and-now
- and in the future, to manifest our dreams and desires.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.”
I am grateful for the infinite value of each moment.
I would also be very grateful if you would subscribe to my mailing list (see top right), so that I can share more moments of infinite value with you, once a month.