This week, I decided to make an attempt in spontaneity and go camping with a friend in the desert. Don’t let the picture fool you! Sun does not equal warmth. It was highs in the mid-50s and lows in the low to mid-30s. As we huddled around the fire trying not to freeze to death, I found myself practicing some mindfulness as my thoughts started to wander to all the things that have been weighing on me.

Mindfulness is a funny thing. We hear about it, we talk about, and I think it means something different for everyone. To me, being mindful is about really being present in a given moment–accepting all the things that are and are not–whether or not we want to be in that moment.

I found myself being mindful of our situation: two women chose to go to the desert and camp for the night. A friend had made a joke, “Have fun pretending you are homeless!” and this joke came to me as I stared into the fire. Even though I was not particularly enjoying myself, we still had it better than homeless people. We chose to drive out here and do this. We have food and beverages. We have a fire to keep us warm. Most importantly, we had homes to return to when we were done. I have an amazing boyfriend who works his butt off to provide for us. I have two awesome dogs that love me to pieces. I have a warm bed and blankets; a house with central heating; warm clothes… These are all things I never really think about.

I often find myself trying to be mindful and the burdens of my stress push this awareness out of the way. In this moment, I was truly able to be present and to gain awareness of all the amazing things I have in my life that I take for granted every day! This is not including all the other things I have: career, car, money, technology, etc. I just never am able to find space in my mind to give it a second thought.

So while this camping trip did not change my mind about camping–I still hate it–it gave me perspective. I truly got to think of these little things in a different way than I usually consider them. In the midst of my week dealing with anhedonia, I really needed that. I needed to find joy and awe in these little things that I take for granted every day.

After almost freezing to death over night, we pushed west towards home. I was actually happy to see the city, the businesses, and even the people. When I got home, nothing had ever felt better than those warm blankets on my skin… And while I was thankful to be warm, I was even more grateful for the mindfulness experience I had the night before that allowed me to truly appreciate the moment.

-A

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