My good friend Lori is a great writer and has started taking virtual vacations. This is a great mindfulness exercise for anyone who needs a break from the rain or the snow or the office. Ever wanted to go to England but don’t have the time or money? Just sit back and let Lori be your tour guide.
For years I have introduced clients to Neil Gaiman’s five-minute and twenty-three second walk through fantasy land called, “Instructions”. A Buddhist may encourage you to listen to a rock grow. Some people go tanning. Many of us have a go-to song for when we are feeling low or pouty. I’ve recently reconnected with my 12-year-old self who likes doing “Dot To Dots”. Some of us go fishing or take a nap or watch that channel with video cameras at places on the planet where people are having way more fun than you are right now. The vehicle doesn’t really matter, it’s the journey and the destination which counts.
Most of the tools I teach clients are cheesy. I am fond of reminding you in counseling that you are probably going to know some of the things I will re-teach you; counseling is not really rocket science. My job is to remind you of your better intentions, and help you learn ways of coping with life that you already know, but may not know how to use.
Sometimes on the way home I will open my Ginkgo App on my phone and tune into Gaiman’s Instructions. Eyes closed, body relaxed, a few minutes of fantasy in a world of reality. I listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s soothing voice on a regular basis as well. When I read Lori’s Sibton Park Wilderness Reserve, a private country estate where we can immerse ourselves in 4,500 acres of sprawling, quintessential English landscape, only two hours from Central London, my imagination paints a picture, if only for a moment, of something that isn’t stressful or asking for money or complaining about the dogs. A few years ago I had an opportunity to go to Hawaii and recorded the waves lapping on the shore. Every now and then I watch that video on my phone. Mindfulness.
People who come to see me know that I believe in cheesy tools. I still have my Wisdom Rock, it’s in my manbag right by my feet. I still practice STOPP Therapy and mindfulness and centering exercises and breathing and refocusing whenever I think of them. People spend thousands of hours getting in shape but don’t take care of their emotional well-being. That’s nuts. I’m not sure how some people do it, but I would be cray cray if I didn’t pay attention, on a regular basis, to my mind games.
I am a big fan of doing things I really like to do. If you tell me you have a boat and want me to come outside with you and hit a lake or the ocean, I will suddenly make myself available. We are all far more motivated to do those things which feed something in our life or are deemed pleasurable. The only counseling tools that work for me are the ones I like doing. Ask me to get up and pray for an hour in the morning and I’ll fail. Give me a great book or drag me behind a boat and I’m a Jedi. You need to find what works for you. I have harassed readers and clients for years about podcasts and audiobooks but that may not turn you on. The key is to keep looking until you find what works for you. I stumbled into audiobooks; others fall into art or school or philosophy, or they dress up like knights and princesses and pretend to like the taste of grog.
Few clients complain when the homework I give them is to lay out in the sun for an hour. Eat cheesecake in a mindful fashion. Listen to Cabin Pressure while walking your dog. Meditate in the hot tub. Barbecue more. Sleep in this weekend. Read a book by candlelight in the bathtub and lock the door. Get a massage. See, you can do this.
Take care of yourself out there.