I sat on top of Mount Doug last night next to the woman I love most in the world, my mum. We sat next to each on the hard bedrock breathing in the ocean air that always hovers around Victoria. Mount Baker stood tall and white capped far across the Juan De Fuca Strait. The Gulf Islands lay peaceful covered in Douglas fir and cedar trees. The ocean was so calm it gleamed up at us like an ice covered lake. The mountains to the west were coloured like a Roger Dean painting in purples, mauves and blues that only ever exist in my dreams. A fog hung low to the south east blanketing the Olympic mountains, giving them the appearance of small hills.
We were on top of the highest point in Victoria to watch the sun set behind the mountains and the full moon rise through the blanket of fog simultaneously.
As I took in the beauty surrounding me I couldn't help reflecting on where I was a year ago.
A year ago, the sun didn't shine for me. I lived under a constant gray cloud that drizzled on me even in my dreams. When the rainy clouds of November arrived, it didn't faze me at all. Mum remembers asking me to go watch this natural phenomenon last year and I didn't want to. It is amazing what emotions and depression can do to you. How powerful these emotions are, how they take control of your mind and rule your life. To be fair to myself, last year was very difficult and I have come out the other side a stronger, calmer, more compassionate person.
With the help of my yoga teachers and my asana, pranayama and meditation practice, the most valuable thing I have learned in the last year is how to practice mindfulness in my life. I am learning how my mind works and how to be more conscious of my thoughts. In Brené Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines mindfulness:
"Mindfulness requires that we not "over-identify" with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught and swept away by negativity."
For myself, mindfulness has become a very useful tool when it comes to my emotions. Emotions are triggered by things that occur around us or memories that we experience. I have always been an emotional person, I experience my emotions very strongly. Through my life they have often debilitated me to the point that I couldn't get out of bed or they would consume me so much that I could not focus on anything else. I have learned how to allow myself to feel the emotions, to breathe them in completely, wallow in them if I need to, accept them and then to detach from them. They do not define who I am, they are only something I need to feel in order to truly experience what I need to so that I can process what is occurring in my life. This is by no means easy. I work with this every day. I practice it everyday.
Some people need to learn how to calm different parts of their mind. It could be learning how to still the constant monologue that occurs while you are practicing yoga. It could be becoming aware of when you are constantly planning the future, that you are existing in the future so much that you forget how beautiful the moment of now can be.
Something powerful happens when you learn to control your thoughts. You learn to have compassion for yourself and others. You discover there is space in your life for peace. Listening becomes something you want to do. You begin to take responsibility for your own hang ups. And the biggest thing for me has been that I am learning to let go of having to control everything all of the time.
The sun turned bright red as it dipped behind the mountains and the moon rose serenely out the fog and into the azure blue of the sky. I couldn't help but think that this is what life is like. Sometimes we shine brightly and with great power like the July sun and other times we rise graciously and calmly knowing the power we hold exists deep within us, it need only be given a chance to shine.
As Mum and I walked down the mountain I felt so grateful for my life. These priceless moments, the hardships and the amazing people are so precious, I must have won the lottery in a past life.