I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and Festive season and your 2016 is off to an amazing start.
2015 was a fun but crazy year for me. I visited 9 countries and as well as meeting some amazing people and seeing some amazing places I finally achieved very some long standing goals. 2 of the longest standing ones were: having the European honeymoon that my husband and I first planned when we married 31 years ago and never seemed to get around to, and visiting Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in Bhutan, a trip I promised myself one winters day when I was 8 years old! I also had the fun of starting out on some new and exciting adventures that you’ll hear about as 2016 progresses.
Perhaps because last year was so busy, or perhaps because I’m now engrossed in studying Gross National Happiness, thank you to several wonderful people in Bhutan for getting me started, I’ve decided that 2016 will be my year of conscious mindfulness. I still plan lots of travel, I love travelling and don’t forget, if you’d like me to come to you let me know, but everything I do will be done in a space of conscious mindfulness.
I was discussing mindfulness and sharing some Power Break breathing techniques with a client last week when he told me that he didn’t have time for meditation, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to fit any of the breathing exercises into his already packed days. He shared the details of his very busy life and commented how he could use some sort of magic elf or perhaps he needed to clone himself just to get through. I smiled at the thought of the a elf and remembered a story that a delightfully charming young monk told me as we sat on a low wall outside one of Bhutan’s many monasteries. My client enjoyed it and I thought I’d share it with you as this month’s Happiness Hotline story:
There was once a man who was so busy he hardly had time for anything. He went to the monastery in the hope of getting some help. He spoke with a monk who said that yes, the monastery could provide help; he said they could give him a devil (magical creature) to help him. The man smiled. The monk called the devil to join them and gave the man a warning, “Be careful though. If you have no work for the devil to do it might eat you!” The man said there was no worry about that since he had so much to do.
The man took the devil home and set it to work. First he got it to do all the gardening. It wasn’t long before the devil came back to him looking for more work. The man thought it couldn’t possibly have done all the gardening is such a short time and he looked outside. Sure enough the garden looked beautiful.
Next he asked the devil to paint the house and in double time it was done. Next he asked it to fix the bathroom and stop all the leaks. Again, it was done in no time. Next he asked the devil to fix the roof, to paint the inside of the house, to do all the cleaning. It wasn’t long before the man was running out of jobs and the devil was giving him hungry looks.
Frightened that the devil might eat him the man took it back to the monk at the monastery and explained that the devil had completed all the jobs so fast he had run out of work for it. The monk smiled and looked at the devil, the devil was still looking hungrily at the man. The monk said “Devil, I want you to sit and breathe slowly and mindfully, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out and don’t stop until I tell you.” The devil sat and did as it was asked.
The monk looked at the man and said “As busy as we might be we must remember that being mindful, taking time to breathe, to appreciate the stillness and the quiet is as important a task as everything else that fills our day, sometimes it’s more important. Taking time to be mindful, to stop and simply breathe will often make all the other things seem little easier.” The man looked at the devil, quietly breathing in and out and smiled.
The young monk who shared the story went on to say that sometimes, if we are overwhelmed with all that seems to need doing we should seek help, then he laughed and added “perhaps not from a devil though!” Then he added that sometimes it’s important to stop and think mindfully about all we’re doing and ask ‘is it all important? Can some of it be done by others or is some of it just busy work?’ He told me how taking time to breathe and be mindful can help us focus on the important things.
This month try to take a few moments every day to simply stop and breathe. I call brief moments of stillness Power Breaks. You might be amazed at how productive a Power Break can be.
In late December I was unpacking my suitcase for the last time for the year and thinking about my conscious mindfulness plans for 2016 when I receive an interview request. The caller, the lovely Sam, told me that she was from a magazine called ‘Slow Living’. I smiled and thought ‘what a perfect way to end the year’. I’ll let you know when the interview is published.
This year my plans already include my 11th trip to the USA for the annual conference e of the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humour (AATH), a return trip to Bhutan in October plus a number of interstate and intrastate trips. If you’d like a crazy but mindful Australian to share some tips on the benefits of laughter, ideas for effective Power Breaks (mindfulness) or even some ideas on Gross National Happiness and building happy communities and workplaces please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.
I wish you a joyous and laughter filled January.