Beyond The Clouds
Twice a year I travel to Cannes with Chapman Taylor for work conferences and as I write this I’m currently sat on my return flight from Nice to London Heathrow. Thankfully this flight is at a friendlier hour than my outbound flight on Monday morning which required a 4.30am alarm call!
I wouldn’t describe myself as a frequent flyer but I travel enough that I’m fairly organised with it now. I keep all my paperwork and passport in a little file and have the BA app on my iPhone so that I can have a paperless boarding card, which I must admit I still find very novel! I also always schedule reminders to check in online the day before and ensure I get a decent window seat. I confess that I’m still completely useless at packing however and even with my incessant list writing it never seems to get any easier! It is truly one task I could happily live without, particularly for conferences where I try to pack light but have to take such specific outfits.
I made sure to get plenty of yoga in last weekend as I knew it was almost certain I wouldn’t get much opportunity for it this week. I was right and as a result I’m dying to get to a class this weekend and stretch my body out. My leggings were packed in the hope I’d find some time (everywhere I go they go!), as there is a yoga studio in Cannes, but sadly the class schedule is not very work friendly. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am in London as no matter what time you want to go to class, you can be pretty certain to find one. Unless its the middle of the night of course!
The one thing I do always make time for, even when I’m travelling, is meditation. Call it (and me!) what you like, but meditation, or just the act of being with my thoughts and inner self, is what keeps me sane and inspired by life. It doesn’t have to take long and theres no requirement to sit in any particular position much to popular belief, it just has to consist of a few minutes of time to focus yourself. Ive done it for as long as I can remember, though as a child it was mostly referred to as daydreaming and the sad reality is that nowadays I would probably be diagnosed with ADHD! If I ever have children they will be actively encouraged to daydream to their hearts content and from that, ultimately meditate. I think it creates a stronger person, a person who knows their own mind and a person who is confident in themselves.
Contrary to popular belief the art of meditation is not about clearing the mind (why would you want an empty mind!?), but is about being able to acknowledge whats happening, what your thoughts are doing and bringing yourself back to your present and to a healthy set of thoughts. Everybody can get something different out of it but for me its an opportunity to assess myself and my day, and to pack what I like to call an ’emotional toolbox’; a set of tools that will get me through each and every hour of the day in hopefully the best, most positive way possible because for me the key to happiness is owning my emotions. After all nobody else is going to do it for me!
The ‘M’ word (meditation) is one that causes a lot of fuss. People imagine you have to be sat cross-legged on a mat wearing beads around your neck or at the very least be a raging hippy! It strikes fear into many and can reduce people to make jokes about how nuts you are if you do it. To those people I dare to say, what are you scared of? It’s the same question I’d ask people who refuse to shut their eyes in savasana. There’s something very challenging about being inside your own head, it makes people feel vulnerable or else just have to face up to meeting themselves. It might sound strange, but meeting yourself is a big deal. Most people go through life moving so quickly that they never actually get to stop and calmly ask, without predetermined judgement, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I doing and why?’ and ‘What thoughts are in my head if I dare to look there?’. When you close your eyes to meditate or simply do focused relaxation, all the external distractions are gone and the only person you’re left with is you. The hard part of this is that it means you might have to face up to things that you’ve been keeping hidden for a while and that is never an easy feat. But those thoughts are there for a reason and often facing ourselves can take or keep us on the best path in life. Progression isn’t always easy but it is something to be embraced. Denying your inner self doesn’t make it go anywhere, it just makes life harder than it needs to be for longer than it needs to be!
So what is it that made me think of all this while sat on a plane? Partly it’s because I’ve had a successful week, I met some great people and got to catch up with fantastic colleagues that I don’t get to see very often, the majority of whom are all powerfully positive, strong people. But mostly, far simpler than that, it’s the view out of my window…
Sometimes we feel like our lives are so clouded and grey, either because life has thrown us an unwelcome situation or challenge, or even just because the weather is making us feel down. I know that I’m likely to land in London to fairly poor weather (it was snowing when I left) but up here, beyond the clouds, the sun is nearly always shining and it’s so incredibly beautiful. I’ve flown over mountains and sea, even beautiful white blankets of cloud, and I have been reminded that there’s a bigger picture out there, a picture that we barely touch. Now we can’t all see these sights all the time, but we can use the knowledge of them as a metaphor for living, a tool to help us improve all aspects of our lives. So the next time life feels heavy and the challenges feel too big just remember the tools you have at your disposal. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself to you and remember, the sun is always shining somewhere beyond the clouds.
With love and inner sunshine,