I think… a lot

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(The rocks at the lighthouse near Sagres, Portugal)

It’s coming towards the end of this journey and as always my mind stops living in the present and moves ahead. It’s very counter productive because on the one hand I am thinking about leaving and missing this lifestyle and on the other hand if I’m thinking about leaving then I’m no longer here! So I’ve left the travelling already… two weeks before it ends! I used to do the same thing when I got a massage. The session would hardly have started before I’d be thinking, I wonder how much time is left, I wish this would last longer….

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(Port with little lighthouse near Sagres)

For the past two weeks I’ve been meditating using Headspace and that’s how I recognised that I was in this pattern again. During the fifteen minutes of the meditation, the guide, whose name is Andy, reminds you to pay attention to your breath and count along with the in breathe and the out breath to ten and if you get distracted by thoughts or feelings to stop the counting. Then notice you had a thought or feeling and go back to counting the breaths. I used to think that I couldn’t meditate because I was continuously distracted by thoughts but now I realise that the distractions are the place where I learn what I’m doing to myself.

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(This guy was in the campsite at Luz, Portugal)

And the thing that I’m doing to myself, is thinking… constantly thinking. Thinking about the future, the past, the bad things that could happen, the good things that could happen, the things I might miss, the things I did wrong, the hurt I caused, the apologies I could make, I didn’t make, I can’t make. These thoughts have an impact on my mood, my well-being, my mental health, my relationships, my productivity, my sanity! Since restarting meditation I have been noticing my thinking as it distracts me for a fifteen minute section of the day. (For the other 23 hours and 45 minutes each day I hardly ever realise I am continuously thinking.) For fifteen minutes a day I cannot stop those thoughts but I can notice them and then return to counting my breaths and that helps.

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(Gibraltar, of course)

Today, in the meditation Andy asked me (it’s pre-recorded, he’s not actually talking to me…) to consider the bigger picture. To consider everyone I meet is doing exactly the same thing to themselves. Everyone I meet or see on the street or hear in the shop is doing this to themselves. And they can’t stop. We can’t stop the thinking of the thoughts, the best we can do is to notice it and then return to what’s actually happening. For the rest of this journey I will be practicing returning to what is actually happening here, because I’m still here, even if my thoughts are not.

One teeny, tiny, baby step at a time, Mairead.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland!

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