"Each one of us is a visitor to this planet, a guest who has only a finite time to stay. What greater folly could there be than to spend this short time lonely, unhappy, and in conflict with our fellow visitors? Far better, surely, to use our short time in pursuing a meaningful life, enriched by a sense of connections with and service toward others." - Dalai Lama
That is how the book by Holly B. Rogers, MD,
The Mindful Twenty-Something, opens.
I imagine the authors begin their book with this quote because practicing mindfulness is a way to quiet oneself. When we take the time to be in silence, we open ourselves to discovery.
When I was a 20-something, I was often lonely and not sure of how or where I wanted to live my life. I am much more settled now, but not settled in a stagnant way, as I am probably more curious than I have ever been. I feel settled in the sense that I am living a meaningful life while still investigating ways to make more of a contribution. I too have learned that through practicing mindfulness, I am open to learn what a meaningful life, in connection with and in service to others, looks like for me.
During this holiday season, my husband and I got out in nature to two new areas we had not yet visited in Louisiana. We drove southeast to Grand Isle, a narrow jut of land in the Gulf of Mexico, where I was struck by all the fishing boats and the homes standing on stilts, with the mosquitoes buzzing my ears and sucking blood from my ankles in December. On a day trip south and west from our home, we explored the Creole Nature Trail, where we were treated to birds - migrating ducks and geese, shorebirds, and my favorite, the roseate spoonbill. We walked trails in the crisp air and marveled at how we had never visited this magical spot before.
Grand Isle State Park
For me, being in nature and exploring new sights, and sitting on the meditation cushion bring me a sense of well-being and discovery of myself and how I want to be in the world.
What strategies do you use to quiet your mind? To allow yourself moments to pause and reflect on your life? The new year is a wonderful time to do that. To ask the question, how do I want to be on this planet? What kind of visitor do I want to be?
In the newspaper this week I read that President Obama told David Axelrod: "Look I have to be quiet for a while. I don't mean politically, I mean internally. I have to still myself. You have to get back in tune with your center and process what's happened before you make a bunch of good decisions." May all leaders do this in the coming year.