Grateful for what we have

Comparing Meditation Retreats
Standard

If wishes were horses!

I wish we had a whirlpool/jacuzzi/spa tub at our retreat. It would have been wonderful to lie back into hot, swirling bubbles at the end of a busy day of walking meditation, writing meditation and working meditation sessions. Especially if we also did an equine-assisted experiential learning session. Instead, all we have is a 2 acre/1 Ha spring fed lake and a pond surrounded by mint, wild thyme and whispering reeds. Yes, I know I can sit on a sun lounger on the deck by the lake with a tall, cool drink (some of the ice-cold water from the mountain springs that feeds our lake will be pure bliss in the summer heat) and watch the sun set over the water. Or I could join the otters for a late afternoon swim in the lake. Or I could swing in a hammock over the water and watch the horses come down to the water for a drink. Or I could sit by the pond with my feet in the mint-scented water…

I also wish we had a sauna. Lots of retreat resorts have saunas. I would like one of the infra-red ones that warm up instantly. Just imagine all that blissful heat at the touch of a button. Yes, I know that we live in the south of France, where in the summer the temp goes up to 35° in the shade and where even in the winter we rarely have cause for complaint. I know I spent most of my days here trying to get out of the sun and into the shade. I know our guests love the endless, sunny, warm summer days. I know they love getting up early in the morning to see the sunrise while it is already warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt . I know they love the long, balmy summer evenings when the temperature stays in the mid-twenties until sunset at 10 o’clock at night…it is just the thought of having a sauna on site – such luxury!

I think our retreat could do with a live-in yoga instructor . I am seriously into yoga – I find it very relaxing (especially afterwards). I have come across hundreds (literally) of yoga retreats on the web. It would be great to have a yoga teacher here for our guests. Instead, we have to put up with nothing but miles of off-road footpaths through ancient woods, lush orchards, past quiet lakes, along manicured vineyards and flowered meadows for relaxing walks. I DO enjoy going for a long walk, maybe coming upon deer peacefully grazing in a lush green field, or a woodpecker building a 5* condo in an old oak tree in the woods or watching the swallows catching their dinner on the surface of a dark pond. I suppose I do enjoy doing some stretches on a hilltop in the middle of nowhere facing the rising sun, but a private yoga teacher, just for our retreat guests, would really make my day!

A detox diet regime might be a good idea too. I also saw loads of detox retreats on the web. I have hosted detox retreats in the past – my detox retreat was called the « Red Wine Retreat » (go figure) and was based on Prof Roger Corder’s research about the health benefits of red wine, specifically the famous Madiran wine of our region. The problem is, here in Gascony, we are surrounded and overwhelmed by nature’s bounty in every shape and form : fresh, home-grown fruit and vegetables, nuts from our neighbours’ trees, organic home-raised meat, fish from our own lake and free range poultry and eggs, some of the most delicious and excellent wines in all of France…a starvation diet here would be unthinkable. So we decided to feed our guests’ bodies as richly as we feed their minds. Gascony is, after all, a region famous for its extravagant gastronomy and exceptional wine

Silence might be beneficial too. I have also read about silent retreats on-line. Silent retreats are very popular. I can understand why people would refrain from talking during a retreat, in fact, we have a « no-talking » period to give our guests an idea of how this works, but we have no hope of creating total silence here, deep in the heart of a very active countryside. Sounds of nature keep shattering that so longed for silence: birdsong bursting our eardrums from sunrise to sunset, horses neighing and cantering up and down their paddocks, people joking and laughing while working in the vineyards surrounding us…it is only at night that silence reigns here profoundly and unperturbed.

Another thing I would appreciate would be a professionally designed and constructed meditation room. We have to make do with the deck by the lake – admittedly it is large, stretches out into the lake so that it feels as if you are sitting on water. There is a lot to be said for meditating outside, but when it rains we have to use the horses’ barn. It is true that the barn is very useful for equine-guided meditation, especially since we have installed sturdy tables for our guests to sit on when the horses join them for a meditation session, but I so admire the meditation rooms at huge retreats resorts in exotic locations! I suppose, for the time being, we will have to make do with our meditation labyrinth, our meditation station path on the island in the lake and the large number of secluded spots we have created for private meditation…

A small army of therapists to help us look after our guests would come in useful. All we have is a retired medical doctor (admittedly with many years of experience and a few decent qualifications), a wine expert (with a WSET diploma) and six supersmart horses. It does help that most of the horses also have many years of experience helping guests through equine-assisted experiential learning – (Belle de la Babinière has been on the job for nearly 10 years now) and that each of the horses bring their own individual characters and experiences to each session – some of our horses have suffered trauma eerily similar to the trauma our guests may have suffered in the past.. Aurileo d’Alegria, our cocky little Lusitano, was severely abused and on his way to the abattoir when we found out about his plight.

Sometimes I wish we were more isolated – like a lonely monastery on a mountain top – far from any interference from modern life. We are secluded, in our own little valley, on the edge of a typical south-of-France village, but we are not isolated. I suppose this does have the benefit that we are easy to reach. We are within less than 2 hours’ drive from 4 international airports: Bordeaux, Toulouse, Pau and Tarbes/Lourdes – our guests often spend a day on arrival or departure at the world famous Lourdes pilgrim site. I suppose it is also useful to have access to all mod con’s even though we are steadily working towards self-sufficiency and to be close to local weekly fresh food markets, as part of the aim of our retreat is to introduce our guests to the lifestyle that allows people of this region to live long, fit and healthy lives.

Huge bedrooms with every luxury imaginable would be interesting. We do not have bedrooms the size of aeroplane hangers. We have cosy bedrooms, with exposed, 200+-year-old oak beams supporting the ceiling, more oak beams in the half-timbered walls and terracotta tiles/oak floor boards. Each of our bedrooms is individually decorated, along the «Romantic French Country Style » (you can find out more about this style of interior decorating on my Pinterest board with the same name). Our guest accommodation is in a separate farmworker’s cottage, with its own kitchen (for that midnight cup of redbush tea), and its own sitting and dining room with an ancient open fireplace that now sports a cast-iron wood-burner. It also has a dainty little porch where our guests can sit and eat their breakfast looking out over the horse paddocks. No large and luxurious bedrooms, I am afraid, but the cottage does have free wifi.

Another thing on my wish list is a top-of-the-range, fully-fitted kitchen with every modern appliance/gadget ever invented. At the moment all our meals are cooked in a 200+-year-old farmhouse kitchen with a humongous bread oven; we often have an open fire going in the bread oven. It is true that we have spent many happy hours there, some in the company of our guests, cooking together, laughing and sampling a variety of wines (while pretending we are choosing the right wine to complement a specific dish). It is also true that our kitchen, in its current shape, is the inviting and welcoming hub of the house and that many a guest and I have shared and solved problems while sitting at the table shelling peas or skinning potatoes.

 I think, in retrospect, that I am quite perfectly happy and deeply grateful for what we already have – our retreat guests certainly appreciate what we have to offer them: “Ah, that brought a smile to my face:-) I think about you and your fur family SO often – your farm is my go-to daydreaming place. I smile just thinking about the space, the lake, all my horse friends (who thought I’d ever say that!) and the cats walking through the paddocks.” Claire-Marie M.

 CLICK HERE to find out more about our Personal Empowerment Workshops

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”  Seneca

Comparing Meditation Retreats

Midlife Wisdom: Collect experiences, not possessions

Standard

Since December 2015, I have been thinking about making New Year’s resolutions, in a very general, non-focussed sort of way. It is now the beginning of March 2016 and still I have not been able to formulate any inspiring resolutions for this year. I am not sure why, because I am actually a great recommender of having a whole bunch of short- and long-term « SMART » goals and of living with determined intention. 

Until now.

My one and only New Year’s Resolution for 2016

For 2016, I have made only one resolution: to collect experiences instead of collecting possessions. I didn’t just grab this resolution out of the thin air, I have been thinking along these lines for a long time. I still have goals, lots of them, but my goals have changed, very subtly. The emphasis is no longer on acquiring possessions, or even on acquiring experience, but on living all experiences that come my way as mindfully as possible.  I would like to share 4 of these goals with you to illustrate my point. I would like:

  • To write a book that will help women become more confident and assertive so that they can live more fulfilling lives,
  • To lead a transformational retreat (similar to the Personal Empowerment Workshops I host here in France) in another country, like South Africa for example 
  • To take my horses and equine-assisted experiential learning into local schools, to help with bullying and into local nursing homes, to provide physical and psychological stimulation for the inhabitants
  • To raise money for a charity I feel close to, by talking one of more of the horses to a supermarket and asking for donations
  • To go to the annual EAGALA (equine-assisted growth and learning association) conference in America, this year in Lexicon, Kentucky, to update my knowledge and exchange views and experiences with other equine-assisted therapists…

For the activities listed above, I will still set « SMART » goals, just as I always did before and to work diligently to achieve them. The change is subtle, it really is only a difference in emphasis.

  • Take the first point on my list. I no longer yearn to become a famous author and sell thousands of books. I am more interested in writing a book that can actually be useful, a book that will make a difference to women’s lives. I am more interested in my readers’ reactions to the book – what they found useful and what not, and in the possibility of incorporating this feedback into the book. It is the interaction that will follow the publication of the book that motivates me to write it, now.
  • As for the second point, I am no longer interested in travelling for the sake of seeing the world only. I love travelling, I love discovering new places and I love re-visiting old favourites, but travelling with a group of women with whom I can share the experience while at the same time providing them with the tools and skills the need to change themselves and their lives for the better is so much more appealing.
  • Even the last point, for me, will be about the experience. Being there amongst hundreds of other therapists facing the same challenges in their work as I do, the opportunity to discuss these challenges and brainstorm solutions, the chance to forge new friendships, would make the experience invaluable, in my book.

I no longer feel the need to acquire possessions, not even horses.

Research Results

During the last 10 years, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions do, especially in the long run. The understanding that experiential purchases are more satisfying than material purchases has long been the focus of psychology professor Thomas Gilovich. Since 2003, he has been researching how and why experiential purchases make us so much happier than material purchases. In the journal Psychological Science, Gilovich and Killingsworth, along with Cornell doctoral candidate Amit Kumar, expand on the current understanding that spending money on experiences “provide more enduring happiness” than spending money on possessions. (Link)

We used to assume that spending money on material possessions make us happier. We thought that when you spend money on a vacation, it is soon over and done with. Whereas if you buy the most comfortable couch that you can afford, the pleasure last longer as it stays with you, in physical form, for much longer than the duration of the holiday. Not so, apparently. It seems that the memories of that holiday not only outlast the lifespan of the couch but become more enjoyable as time goes by. We can even give negative experiences a positive slant. According to Kumar, if it rains a lot during a holiday, «People will say, well, you know, we stayed in and we played board games and it was a great family bonding experience or something.»

Additionally, anticipating going on a holiday is apparently more enjoyable than waiting for your new couch to arrive – maybe because when dreaming about your holiday, the possible ways of making the best of it are only limited by your imagination. I am not altogether convinced of this, though, seems to me I can imagine rather a lot of ways of enjoying my new couch…

The researchers also point out that other people generally find it more interesting to hear about one’s experiences while on holiday, than about the comforts of one’s new couch. That sounds about right, people more often ask me «How was your holiday?» than «How are you getting on with your new couch?» (Which is probably a good thing!)

Reasons I chose this Resolution

You may have been surprised my outrageous statement above, about not being interested in buying more horses. I am too. I never thought there would ever come a time when I would not want more horses (assuming I have the funds and facilities to look after them), but it is true. I would now rather spend time with the horses I have, learn from them, work with them and study the effect that they have on clients during equine-assisted experiential learning sessions.

  • It might have something to do with the fact that having arrived at midlife, I am now aware that time is running out and that I need to live more mindfully: «It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had.» – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
  • Or it might have something to do with a book I read recently: 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, by John Herrick. You can download the book(free) in pdf-form by CLICKING HERE.

So what do you think? Have I finally lost it? Should I be buying better saddles, better bridles, better horses and spend more money on more comfortable furniture?

As the personal transformation retreats to South Africa are still in the planning stage, all I can invite you to at the moment, if you are also more into experiences than into possessions, is our equine-guided Personal Empowerment Workshops.

PS. My apologies for my few-and-far-in-between posts at the moment. I have been asked by Hélène Tragos Stelian if I would care to be featured on her blog, Next Act for Women, about women who changed direction in midlife, so I am currently working on that and I am also updating our women’s midlife retreats.

Midlife Wisdom Collect Experiences not Possessions

10 Horse Quotes: Mantras for Equine-guided Meditation

Meditation mantras
Standard

If you types « horse quotes » into google, you will find hundreds of hits with thousands of quotes. Most of these have to do with horse riding, horse training, horse behaviour…all the things we teach horses. As equine-assisted experiential learning is an essential part of our Equine-guided Mindfulness Meditation Retreats, and especially of our new Mindfulness Meditation Retreats, I went looking for horse quotes about what horses can teach us and I found 10 quotes that resonate with me.

As introduction, I found an inspiring video, with a good number of quotes, illustrated by pictures of horses:

Horses have taught us about the transfiguring effect of reducing anger. We have repeatedly observed that they rarely show offense at a handler who reprimands them legitimately for something they have done wrong, if the handler is devoid of rage or vengeance. However, if reprimanded in a fury, horses will counterattack because they feel challenged. Many power struggles can be avoided by learning not to meet anger with anger. This is an invaluable lesson in life. Developing patience and being unemotional is the key.” – Adele von Rust McCormick My favourite of Adele’s books is Horse Sense and the Human Heart: What Horses Can Teach Us About Trust, Bonding, Creativity and Spirituality

The woman recovering from abuse or other stressful life situations may feel she’s in no way in charge of anything, least of all her own world. She faces the horse with trepidation. The horse senses the fear and becomes tense and concerned. The wise instructor starts small. The woman is handed a soft brush and sent to fuss over the horse. It’s pointed out that if she stands close to the animal, she will be out of range of a well-aimed kick. She is warned to watch for tell-tale signs of fear in herself and the horse. She’s warned to keep her feet out from under the horse’s stomping hoof. They’re both allowed to back away and regroup and try again until they reach an accord regarding personal space. Calm prevails, and within a few minutes, hours or sessions, interaction becomes friendship. It happens almost every time a woman is allowed enough time and space to work through the situation. So a woman whose daily life is overwhelming her learns to step back. Is this a cure for her endless problems? Of course not. Simple is not simplistic.” – Joanne M. Friedman,

We have a culture in which the nourishing, life-giving waters of emotion, empathy, sensory awareness, gut feelings, and other forms of nonverbal awareness have dried up in the heat of our obsessive reliance on all that is light and logical and conscious enough to be mapped, explained, and controlled. Our culture tends to value thought over emotion, logic over intuition, territory over relationship, goal over process and force over collaboration, competition over cooperation. Most people deny and sublimate their feelings, keeping them well below the conscious level until the somatic tension becomes so overpowering that the emotion overrides reason and finally expresses itself, often in violent and self-destructive ways.” – Linda Kohanov. Linda has written two books that I recommend The Toa of Equus and Riding between the Worlds. The latter is my favourite: Riding Between the Worlds: Expanding Your Potential Through the Way of the Horse

Horses don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, or what you believe. They care only about how you behave with them. This enables them to give unconditional acceptance to a troubled teen who is revealing his or her true self. – Tim Hayes

“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” – Viggo Mortensen

“Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls. They give us hope!” – Tony Robinson

I believe that horses bring out the best in us. They judge us not by how we look, what we’re wearing or how powerful or rich we are, they judge us in terms of sensitivity, consistency, and patience. They demand standards of behavior and levels of kindness that we, as humans, then strive to maintain.” – Clare Balding

“Where in this world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity?  Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined.  He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.  There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient…”  – Robert Duncan

When we encounter a friend who’s depressed or afraid, we automatically try to take that distress away and to cheer the person up. While we may be operating with the best of intentions, this Band-Aid approach only reinforces the condition. Unless people experience their pain completely and begin to understand it, they will not only fail to overcome it, they’ll also lose the opportunity of using it to advance their own growth. Pain can get you somewhere, and that somewhere can be a life-enhancing experience. We all tend to forget that pain can signal change. Alleviating the symptoms of pain in someone, without helping them to get at its underlying source, robs them of an important tool for self-exploration. It’s also a way of placating that reinforces the person’s need to cave in and succumb to another. This attitude undermines healthy character development and contributes to psychospiritual, moral, and ultimately social decay.” – Adele von Rust McCormick

“For horses can educate through first hand, subjective, personal experiences, unlike human tutors, teachers, and professors can ever do. Horses can build character, not merely urge one to improve on it. Horses forge the mind, the character, the emotions and inner lives of humans.” – Charles de Knuffy

I also have a Pinterest board called Horse Quotes: Mantras for Equine-Guided Meditation, with several more quotes that you may find useful:

If you would like to find out more about our Equine Guided Mindfulness Meditation Retreats, please CLICK HERE.

Mantras for Equine Guided Meditation

12 Life-saving Midlife Tips

Standard

How is mid-life treating you?

Oliver Robinson said, “a (mid)life crisis is defined as a period characterized by unstable mental and emotional health, altering the course of one’s life and affecting one for a year or longer.” Does the “unstable mental and emotional health” part sound familiar?

If it does, then you are certainly NOT ALONE.

My first mid-life crisis (I have had several since) hit me at the age of 42. It was like a full-frontal collision with a runaway bulldozer. When the dust settled down and I managed to get back on my feet, I found that a few things had changed. I got divorced and got remarried. I sold my house and bought another one, in a different country, where they speak a different language. I had resigned from my comfortable job as a GP and I had started training for a totally new career, in said new country. I had gone from a substantial monthly income to…no income. And I seem to have acquired a whole herd of enormous horses – me, who have never had time to go anywhere near a horse.

As midlife crises go, this one was pretty earth-shattering.

I survived. 

How?

I shall tell you. As a medical doctor with many years of experience helping women through the menopause, I know what works, what makes midlife an easy ride and what makes it a painful slog. I also have personal experience, now. I share with you what worked for me and my patients below:

  1. Learn to say “No” and mean it, without having to say why. Make no excuses, just say “NO”.

  2. Learn to let go. Accept that there are some situations that you just can not control, manipulate or influence. Let go of the past. Forgive and forget.

  3. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Pay it forwards several times a week, a day, an hour. In small and in big ways.

  4. Start mindfully meditating – read books about it, watch TED talks about it, or do a guided meditation on youtube. Find a method that works for you and fits into your lifestyle, whether it is a sitting, walking, writing or whatever meditation – make it a daily habit to reduce stress and to improve your short and long-term mental and physical health.

  5. Boost your brain power. Learn a new language, play chess, do sudoku puzzles/crosswords, read about current political trends, scientific discoveries, health advances. Do something creative, take up a new hobby/sport or learn a new skill – sword-fighting, for example. Or horse riding.

  6. Nurture important relationships. Make time for family, friends, colleagues, charities and your community. Make friends with people with similar but also with different interests. Broaden your horizons. Blog. Use Facebook and Twitter. Look up your old school friends. Build a stronger support network. Contact friends that you have not seen/or heard from in a while. Improve your communication skills.

  7. Get rid of self-imposed limitations and if you didn’t realise that you have any, get help. Read about personal development, get yourself a coach, join a self-improvement group, take a course/attend a webinar if you can’t get away. Commit to personal growth. Get rid of bad habits and avoid mental pollution. Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed. Leave your comfort zone. Stop making excuses.

  8. Be grateful. Make a point of noticing everything you have to be grateful for. Start with the smallest thing. Be grateful, several times per day. Keep a gratitude journal/jar. Write a gratitude letter. Send thank you e-cards. 

  9. Look after your body. Get regular exercise and check-ups. Eat mindfully making sure you get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need. Stay supple. Get fresh air, go out and appreciate nature, alone and in company. Get enough quality sleep and if you are not sleeping, get help.

  10. Expect miracles. Of all shapes and sizes, daily. Make them happen for other people.

  11. If your sense of humour is gathering dust on a shelf somewhere, get it out, dust it off and put a new battery in – you are going to need it.

  12. Take a gap year and travel the world. Or take a gap year and do nothing, somewhere interesting and/or relaxing. Go back to school, train for a new career, like pole dancing. Now is your chance, while you are still strong, healthy and crazy enough to do it. Always dreamed of sailing around the world? Swimming with dolphins? Going to meet the gorillas? Do it now, people will blame your « temporary insanity’ on midlife, you could get away with just about anything.

I realise that this is a long list of «Do this»’s and «Get that»’s, sometimes without a clear indication of how to go about it. It’s a bullet list, probably already crammed with too much detail. Luckily, in the internet age we live in, help and information are always close at hand. You can learn how to do just about anything you can think of, on-line.

Midlife is as much about opportunities as it is about challenges. Don’t be intimidated.

Women try to tame themselves as they get older, but the ones who look their best are often a little wilder.” ~ Miuccia Prada

Should you need a bit of help, join us on one of our Connect with Horses personal empowerment workshops, just the right time of year to let the new you loose upon an unsuspecting world. And you’ll discover what I ended up doing with that herd of horses.

Written by Margaretha Montagu – Mpowering women to live the second half of their lives with renewed passion.

bmDr. Margaretha Montegu is a medical doctor with 20 years of experience helping her patients manage midlife stress so as to avoid physical disease and psychological distress. 8 years ago she left medical practice to concentrate on prevention rather than cure and now hosts Mindfulness Meditation Retreats, assisted by 6 super-smart horses, in the south of France. 

If you are interested in attending a Mindfulness Meditation Retreat here at Les Sources Sacrées in the sun-blessed south of France, or if you would like to find out more about it, please e-mail us on welcome2gascony@gmail.com or leave us a message below. Goes without saying that your e-mail address is perfectly safe, we will never share it. You can find our everything you would like to know about the retreats by clicking on the buttons on the top left-hand menu bar.

  • I am also on Twitter (@EquineGuidedMD), this is where I publish details of any early-bird or last minute special offers,
  • Facebook (Meditation Workshops with Horses), here I publish articles about our work written by experts in the field, 
  • Pinterest, where I have a board that showcases everything this beautiful region (Gascony) has to offer, as well as a Midlife Blossoming board – a collection of articles about how to not only survive but thrive during midlife

If you liked this article and would be interested in reading more articles in the same vein, please subscribe to our blog (top right-hand sidebar) or follow us on any of the above.

You may also like:

bc412ee9-b24a-4de8-a0e6-b111e53303e8

 

Mindful Midlife Meditation and Mantras

Standard

So, where you thinking of getting a tattoo? Or buying that Harley Davidson? Or maybe the Morgan (the car, not the horse) that you have put your name down for ages ago? Or is it a face-lift/tummy tuck/breast implant that you are contemplating?

Are you a bit bored with life in general and with your job and/or spouse in particular ? Are you thinking of chucking it all in : job, house, spouse, golf club membership and moving to somewhere where the sun shines year round? Are you thinking of having an affair with, oh let’s not be too adventurous, your secretary/your best friend’s husband?

Suddenly you feel old, invisible, unappreciated and unimportant.

Are you wondering who you are and what you are doing here? Are you suddenly looking into the mirror and thinking, “Is this really all there is? Is this really what I worked so very hard for – this feeling of disappointment and emptiness?”

Or are you yearning for a spiritual rebirth? Are you dreaming of getting away from it all, to somewhere else, anywhere else, whether the sun shines there 24/7 (or no)t, as long as it is peaceful and quiet there? Are you going through a painful divorce or struggling with the complexities of online dating? Or maybe you have an empty nest and you wonder what purpose the rest of your life is supposed to serve? Maybe you are desperate to bring some passion back into your boring marriage?

The thoughts racing and knocking around endlessly in your head are driving you nuts.

If this is your problem, then I now of something you may want to try. It is called mindful midlife meditation. Mindful midlife meditation can help you put your anxiety about growing older into perspective allowing you to take on board the possibility of growing older gracefully or disgracefully – the choice is yours. No use pretending that you are not feeling anxious about growing older. That is perfectly normal. Meditation can help you minimise that anxiety and reflect on where you are now and where you want to go from here. 

Why bother with meditation, mindful or not? Because midlife meditation can improve your health, help you to sleep better, increase your lifespan, reduce your stress levels and make it easier to cope with the challenges of this transitional period. Mindfulness Meditation, as Sam Harris said, is “simply a state of open, non-judgmental, and non-discursive attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant.” Below are a few reasons why you may want to incorporate midlife meditation into your busy schedule. Meditation can:

Assist you to think more clearly (VERY useful during a midlife crisis!) and make better decisions
Provide you with inspiration and motivation about what you want to do with the rest of your life
Offer you different perspectives should you find yourself unnerved and uncertain
Help you adjust to the physical and psychological symptoms of the menopause/andropause
Substantially reduce your stress levels, lowering the risk of getting a stress-related illness

Our Mindful Meditation Midlife Renewal Retreats are designed to help you master mindfulness meditation, especially if you have never meditated before – the workshop is especially useful for beginners or for those who have meditated for a while but have trouble keeping to their practice.

Regular practice of meditation creates inner peace and a sense of well-being. When you meditate regularly it is easier to simply go with the flow and situations that once stressed you now become insignificant. As I have already written quite a bit about mindfulness meditation, I will not repeat myself here. I do want to add something that would be especially useful for midlifers. Often during meditation, practitioners are encouraged to repeat a mantra, to help them remain focused. I have included below a list of mantras that would be specifically useful for people in midlife:

  • I strive to be the best I can be, but I never try to be someone I am not.
  • I have a lot to be thankful for.
  • I either succeed or I learn something.
  • I do not use where I have been to justify where I am. I use where I am to jump-start where I am going.
  • I prioritise my obligations and do the important things first.
  • I will say no when I choose to.
  • I make time to become conscious of life’s simple pleasures.
  • I help myself by helping those around me.
  • I take ownership of my actions so my actions never own me.
  • I do not make decisions in a state of emotional upheaval.
  • It is OK if not everyone likes me – I don not like everyone either.
  • My habits define who I am.
  • I cannot make someone love me. I can only be someone who can be loved.
  • The biggest mistake I can make is doing nothing because I am scared to make a mistake.
  • What other people think of me is none of my business.
  • I believe in myself more and I doubt others less.
  • I do something every day that makes me happy.
  • No matter how small, I celebrate my successes, daily.
  • I thank people who have helped me and I return the favour asap.
  • I let the things go that are not worth fighting for. I choose my battles wisely.
  • I let go of things I can’t change and concentrate on the things I that can.
  • I forgive others as I forgive myself.
  • I am in competition only with myself striving to be the best I can be.

The above can also work extremely well when used as daily affirmations. Choose one and stick to it for a week, preferably two weeks. The idea is to repeat it to yourself, out loud if you can, as often as possible during the day. Midlife does not have to be a crisis

Midlife does not have to be a crisis – it can be the start of the best part of your life. Imagine how different your life can be in a year’s time if you start changing it today.

Margaretha Montagu – Mpowering women to live the second half of their lives with renewed passion.

bmDr. Margaretha Montegu is a medical doctor with 20 years of experience helping her patients manage stress so as to avoid physical disease and psychological distress. 8 years ago she left medical practice to concentrate on prevention rather than cure and now hosts Mindfulness Meditation Retreats, assisted by 6 super-smart horses, in the south of France. 

If you are interested in attending a Mindfulness Meditation Retreat here at Les Sources Sacrées in the sun-blessed south of France, or if you would like to find out more about it, please e-mail us on welcome2gascony@gmail.com or leave us a message below. Goes without saying that your e-mail address is perfectly safe, we will never share it. You can find our everything you would like to know about the retreats by clicking on the buttons on the top menu bar.

  • We are also on Twitter (@EquineGuidedMD), this is where I publish details of any early-bird or last minute special offers,
  • Facebook (Meditation Workshops with Horses), here I publish articles about our work written by experts in the field, 
  • Pinterest, where we have a board that showcases everything this beautiful region (Gascony) has to offer, as well as a Midlife Blossoming board – a collection of articles about how to not only survive but thrive during midlife

If you liked this article and would be interested in reading more articles in the same vein, please subscribe to our blog (top right-hand sidebar) or follow us on any of the above.

You may also like:

Midlife Meditations and Mantras