Five Life Lessons I Learned on a Camping Trip: Lesson #2 Mindfulness Is Not Just For Hippies

If you’ve never been camping, let me just tell you that you learn a lot about yourself and your routines when you find yourself crammed into a small space without your normal “things” and have to make do with what you got. Like instead of pushing the button on your instant coffee maker and having your drink in less than a minute, you get to use your super cool, vintage looking percolator. You have to plan in advance, give it true thought, remember to check on it, and then wait (semi) patiently for it to finish. It’s a process, but one that is ultimately fulfilling. That first long awaited drink is heaven.

I tend to either constantly be moving, or I am extremely lazy. There really isn’t a whole  of in between for me. I am capable of relaxing, but I get bored pretty easily when it’s not a Hallmark movie or a book, and then I’m off to find something else to do. But occasionally you are forced into a true state of rest, and you realize you’ve been unknowingly craving it. Like when your two year old falls asleep on you, and you find yourself held captive in a strangely delightful way.

It was the second day of our trip. We were sitting in our trailer, visiting with our family, and it was nap time. She was so tired, and just wanted me to hold her. She snuggled in to my chest, and I slowly stroked her eyebrows, reveling in her closeness. Her eyes got heavy, and slowly closed, and before long she was completely relaxed in my arms. Staring down at her flawless skin, and eyelashes that seem to go for days, I wondered when the last time was I had watched her sleep. It felt like the ultimate luxury to have absolutely nowhere to be, or anything to do, and to just be able to hold this last baby. Breathe her in, enjoy the feel of her warm little body nestled into mine.

Mindfulness is a huge catch phrase in the world right now. Everyone is writing books and blogs about it, there are apps that can help you be mindful for any time of the day, for any reason, complete with reminders to be mindful…it seems ironic somehow. Yet we do need the reminder.  There tends to be some mysticism surrounding the concept of mindfulness, but really, it’s just taking the time out of your day to stop and take stock of who you are and where your place is in the world. Sounds daunting and refreshing all at the same time.

Sometimes forcing ourselves to slow down long enough to feel something, to reflect on ourselves, and why we feel what we feel, is eye opening. I am 33 years old, and it wasn’t until a year or two ago that I finally realized that I have anxiety. Like, crippling, mind numbing anxiety. What the what? How do you go through life that long and not realize that you have such a thing?? I know. Madness. I always shied away from really taking the time to examine my own mind, it was too scary to open the door to those parts of me that were in a constant state of fear. So I just lived with the fear, and learned to tip toe around it, and assumed that this was just a normal part of life. FYI it’s not.

We lose some of our ability to feel, to enjoy, to relate, to empathize with others when we hurry through everything, quick to check things off of our list, and essentially numb ourselves to anything else. Obviously we were not wired to do life this way, but it sure is efficient. We lose something of ourselves though, or in some cases hide something of ourselves, when we plow through life, constantly searching for the next thing to conquer. A big thing I see on social media, especially from people who are into fitness related things, is talking about crushing goals, not letting anything stop you, and I think that’s great. We should all have goals, and dreams and find ways to accomplish them…but…what if at some point, all of that goal crushing, dream chasing, kicking butt and taking names, is actually detrimental?

Driven is great, driven people get things done. However in my small observation of the world, I’ve noticed that wise people can both achieve goals and rest in the knowledge that not every dream is meant to be chased, not every goal needs to be crushed, but slowly accomplished. I guess that horribly annoying word balance is what I’m looking for here. Balance to know when to put up your fists and fight for what you want, and when to be still and allow something to wash over you, maybe even wash you downstream a little bit. There is no weakness in finding contentment where you are. Finding rest where you are.

We live in a world where most everything is instant gratification. Amazon Prime has completely ruined me on being able to wait patiently for packages to be delivered. This is not a new concept, or even a new blog topic. You could probably google it and find many other people who have written about it better than I can. But even though we know these things, sometimes we forget that we know them. Right? Like re reading an overused motivational saying, it doesn’t lose it’s truth, but we just needed that kitten poster to remind us that indeed Everything Is Going to Be Alright. I’m still learning to be at rest in the midst of my chaos, but I can tell you I’m a lot better than I used to be.

You can’t have a sleeping two year old hold you captive every day, but I think taking the time to truly be still and savoring something (be it a book, a song, the feel of the breeze blowing across your skin, or a rare moment of complete silence) can go a long way to revitalizing our souls. Mindfulness is a beautiful thing. And coffee from a percolator is delicious.


2 thoughts on “Five Life Lessons I Learned on a Camping Trip: Lesson #2 Mindfulness Is Not Just For Hippies

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