Contributed by Robert Oleskevich, MA, LMFT
A great trip overall, however there was one little thing that kept happening…
Recently, I had the amazing good fortune of going to the Ha Giang mountains in Vietnam, on a motorbike adventure with my cousin. The views and terrain were seriously spectacular and breathtaking. This was the second time I was able to explore this part of the country. The winding rivers, lush green mountains, and magical misty views were even more incredible this time around.
However, while on the trip, I found myself several times thinking back to the comforts of my own home and neighborhood. I imagine part of this was because I had a cold and was feeling a bit under the weather. Yet, it was also interesting to notice how during an amazing trip many people only dream of, my thoughts often drifted to how much I wanted to sleep in my own bed, have access to all the foods I’m familiar with in my neighborhood, and not deal with sleeping/lodging in new and strange places. The thing is, this thought train wasn’t just about dealing with the inconveniences of traveling… sometimes my mind really wanted to convince me that I would be better off at home. This might be just me getting old, but I think there’s a bit more to it than that.
Now that I’m home and reflecting on the trip, I’m missing the scenery and the adventure, but more than that I miss the camaraderie and companionship of hanging out with my cousin Paul. There were a lot of jokes and silliness. Like any good adventure, we met many great people, saw a lot of unique beauty, took roads we weren’t sure about, had some very scary moments and a lot of belly laughs! Imagine in the midst of all of this, wanting to be somewhere else!
I bring this up because this trip has confirmed something about my thinking habits that I believe I already knew. Sometimes, regardless of where I am, it can be very challenging to remain present and truly be in the moment. It’s kind of crazy to think that even when I am doing something I love to do, like riding a motorbike in the Vietnam countryside, my mind can simultaneously try to convince me that I belong somewhere else.
No matter which moment we find ourselves in, it is the only moment that exists. To not be present for this moment is kind of ridiculous, yet that’s exactly what our minds do: fantasize, remember, dwell, lament, wish for something different, or want more/less of whatever we’re experiencing.
This was all a very good reminder for me. I’m going to spend this upcoming week coming back to my breath as much as possible. It is this simple (but not easy) practice that keeps us tethered to the present. When at least some awareness resides in the body, and not lost in incessant commentary from the monkey mind, we are much more likely to LIVE and experience this moment fully.
So, I leave you with this question: Are you able to reflect on a moment when you’ve been lost in next week’s meeting, or in last years break up with your ex, as opposed to being present in that one precious moment? By practicing noticing when we aren’t present, we are more inclined to be able to let go of unhelpful thinking patterns, and return to the the one and only moment that actually exists. I challenge you to come back to your breath and body at least three times a day this week, for 30 seconds each time. In doing so, you are much more likely to let this moment be alive within you.
[Note: This piece was originally published on Robert’s Blog and has been re-posted with permission from the author.]
Author: Robert Oleskevich, MA, LMFT
Robert is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and an on/off member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). He has a B.S. degree in Psychology and an M.F.A. (Masters) in Clinical Psychology. He incorporates Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) into his approach.
Living in Los Angeles, Robert has had the benefit of learning from, and influenced by, some of the most well respected people in the fields of Mindfulness and Buddhist Psychology. Many of those who he considers his teachers are the people who brought Mindfulness Meditation from the East to the West and made it their life’s work to introduce it to the mainstream. He has been fortunate to be part of some of the communities in Los Angeles where Mindfulness and therapy are recognized as powerful and extremely beneficial avenues for relieving suffering and acquiring more happiness.
For more information, his website is www.herosjourneytherapy.com.