Living life in the moment is good experience and sometimes it’s also not so good of an experience, but either way, it is experience nonetheless. Experience is everything. If you want the secret of a healthy and happy life, part of the answer is in the experience. I’m not talking about the kind of experience that employers are seeking regarding a specific skill and success you have achieved, but the experience I’m referring to is our life experience.
So how do we fill up on this amazing cup of life experience? There are many ways to engage life. Some are numbing and destructive, some are mediocre and get us through, while there are other ways that enliven every cell tissue in our body. Yoga teaches us to engage life mindfully. When we engage life mindfully, we do so with focused precision through rhythmic control of the breath. So just about anything can fill our cup up with amazing life experience as long as we keep our yoga lens on and look through life from this spiritual lens.
Some of us seek to restore ourselves in retreats that nourish our mind, body, and breath. When we attend retreats, it’s a special treat to ourselves because there is a lot of energy involved to engage in the experience from the money we save to attend, to the travel we take to get to the retreat, and finally to the time we sacrifice away from our day-to-day lives to regenerate. This is a wonderful way to tune into our life experience, but it’s not the only way.
Our personal practice on the mat is a special and sacred experience that is inexpensive and accessible every day. Whether we are physically moving our bodies in asana practice on the mat or engaging the divine through our meditation, we are gaining invaluable experience that evolves our consciousness into higher planes of understanding and awareness. You may spontaneously begin to notice after your yoga or meditation practice that you see things differently and feel things differently. This is because through our yoga lens we tune into our spiritual lens and we see and feel things from a place of love, even if it’s a situation where we become hyper aroused we notice we have the awareness to walk through stressful situations with much more ease.
Getting outside is another way to experience life optimally. The environment has a huge impact on our brain and consequently our mood and bodies. Choose what you love – a walk, run, bike, stroll, garden, sitting with a cup of tea, shopping from place to place on foot, you name your love and just do it. If you love to garden and create unique spaces in and around your home, a labyrinth is a great thing to create to bring mindful walking and meditation to the outside world in your own backyard!
Take adventure trips. Adventure trips are different from retreats in that there’s much spontaneity in the trip itself. If you don’t have a lot of time, pick a place an hour or two away from your home and create your adventure there. Adventure trips are planned, but there’s plenty of room to allow life to flow through the plans. Adventure trips don’t require every minute of every day to be scheduled. Get a general sense of where and when, and just go for it. Change things up a bit. If you travel by car, maybe take the train or ride your bike. If you always take the same route, take another and see what the back road have to offer. You must trust that life will deliver many gifts on these trips and they will. The lack of scheduling makes the trip fun and fills your cup up with some healthy life experience.
Get out and connect. There are so many amazing events in the city of Houston. Do something different and try an event solo. Give yourself the gift of solitude in connecting. Solitude doesn’t always mean sitting on the banks of the river perfecting our mudras in motion. Find a team sport, race, art festival, camp, church class, continuing education class, etc. and just go for it. I have had some of the most inspiring and enlightening conversations with people I don’t know very well at events I wasn’t sure if I should attend and where I just allowed life to flow through me. Each time I walk away with a surprisingly full cup of healthy experience and inspiration.
Take date nights with your loved ones – kids, partners, and friends. These date nights are so important. We can get bogged down in our domestic lives and easily forget to reconnect with each other. Make the time to reconnect with friends and family. Take a trip to the local café and connect with friends over tea or coffee, take your kiddo on a special date night to the movies or the museum. Whatever you decide to do put the spot on your calendar and don’t let anything override that spot and do this on a regular basis (every 1-2 months). And while you are at it on the calendar reserving these spots, don’t forget to calendar a date night with you whether it’s a bath, reading time, or journaling.
So go get your experience on. Whether it be at a retreat, your personal practice, a date night, an adventure or connecting with nature, disconnect from technology for a bit and put the project down for a while to experience your life. Life is now, not later. Experience is everything. Fill your cup up with many kinds of experiences and you will see your happiness unfold one shifting experience at a time.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea