Good morning and welcome to a beautiful new day in paradise!
- Breakfast: 9h30
- Class: 10h00 Mindfulness Practice – Visit to Aignan market and lake
- Dinner: 19h30
- Tomorrow’s Activities and Preparation: Mardi (Tuesday)
Preparation for today:
- Read the VAK chapter in your Mindfulness and Meditation in the south of France book and determine your VAK learning style. Or you can take the test here: VAK Learning Style Test
- Read the instructions for the Five Senses Exercise (see below.)
- You can also watch one of these excellent TED talks about mindfulness to find out more about it.
What to bring with you:
Your swimming costume, towel, suntan lotion, sunglasses, sunhat, water bottle and walking shoes.
Today, we are focussing on mindfulness and to practice mindfulness, we are going to visit Aignan village with its ancient lake and woods. This field trip is a feast for all five our senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and movement.
The idea is to use all five your senses together today to mindfully anchor yourself in the present moment. An easy way to do this is to do the Five Senses Exercise.
This exercise facilitates the practice of mindfulness quickly in nearly any situation. All you have to do is to focus alternatively on each of your five senses.
- Notice five things that you can see. Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you can see. Choose something that you don’t normally notice, like the shape of a leaf or the texture of a tree trunk.
- Notice four things that you can feel. Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the temperature of the water in the lake, the feeling of the sun on your skin, or the sensation of the sand running through your fingers.
- Notice three things you can hear. Take a moment to listen, and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the chirp of a bird, the laughter of playing children, or the sound of your footsteps on the path.
- Notice two things you can smell. Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps you smell suntan lotion or wet leaves under the trees or a dead fish.
- Notice one thing you can taste. Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, in this moment. You can take a sip from your water bottle, chew a piece of gum, eat a piece of fruit, or just notice the taste in your mouth.
This is a quick and easy exercise to help you become instantly mindful that you can do just about anywhere even if you only have a minute or two.
We start our adventure by visiting Aignan’s fresh food market, about as quintessentially French as it is possible to be. Aignan is an 800-year old market village, located in the heart of the Cotes de Saint Mont and Armagnac vineyards. The village itself is gorgeous and the vibrant little market is a feast of colour and contrasts for the eyes. Listen carefully to the language. If you speak a little French, you may discern the authentic Gascon accent. Even if you do not speak French, you will be charmed by the enthusiasm of the vendors, who will explain the virtues of their products to you in detail. Many have a smattering of English, so do not hesitate to approach them! If you want to buy anything you need, you can do so at the market or at the small Carrefour village shop. There s also a very browsable antique shop on the village square, called Brocanthé, where our friend Nancy Kuyvers sells treasures, tidbits, coffee and tea. Her English is fluent. The St Saturnin church dates from the 12th century and is definitely also worth a visit, especially if you need a moment of peace and quiet after all the hustle and bustle of the village square.
Find out more about Aignan here.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds, so take a seat on one of the benches and concentrate on taking everything in as mindfully as possible.
From the village, we move on to the Aignan lake, deep in the heart of the ancient Aignan woods. The lake and the woods used to belong to the king, but after the revolution, the wood became communal hunting grounds. The oak trees in this wood are hundreds of years old, some dating from way before the revolution. This is a quiet spot in the winter, totally deserted usually, but in summer it takes on a festive air, with its beach and its beachside brasserie.
We are going to mindfully walk the footpath around the Aignan lake. This is a good opportunity to put into practice what you learned yesterday about walking meditation too!
More about the Aignan Lake here.
We will leave Aignan around 12h30-13h00 and head home where your picnic will soon be waiting. Bon appetit and bonne sieste afterwards!