Lately I have been thinking a lot about serenity. It is the theme for this month's Women's Yoga Group and for the upcoming Serenity Sessions. In particular, I've been thinking about how I can invite more serenity into my every day.
Last Saturday I had an experience that reminded me that life is filled with choice points. When something happens, we can choose how to mindfully respond to it, versus mindlessly reacting to it.
I believe that increasing serenity in my everyday has a lot to with training myself to respond more and react less to whatever happens.
Let me tell you what happened to me last Saturday:
I got into the cab wearing a fancy dress while barefoot. The driver looked at me funny. I smiled and assured him I had two pairs of shoes in my bag-- heels for the wedding ceremony and dancing flats for the reception.
We arrived at Roger Williams Park and I felt my excitement mount as I watched well-dressed guests make their way into the building for the ceremony. I walked in hurriedly looking for the familiar faces of friends.
Except, I found none.
I asked a woman and her daughter, "Is this Lauren and Devan's wedding?" With concerned looks they both shook their heads, no.
I had been dropped off at the wrong wedding.
As it turned out there was a second wedding venue in the park that I "simply" had to walk to. I exited the building and looked around the park, deep into the fields of rolling greens and trees and saw no sign of this other site.
Worry set in.
I'm going to be late! How am I at the wrong wedding? And most concerning of all, how am I going to walk across this park? Walking barefoot would leave me exposed to stepping on something unwanted, my heels would be too unbearable for the distance, and the special soles on my dancing flats (perfectly smooth for sliding on dancing floors) would get damaged.
Worried, I began my walk having chosen to sacrifice the perfectly smooth soles of my dancing shoes. Each step I took I grew more and concerned that I was ruining just a little bit more of my sole (pun intended!).
Over 30 minutes later, I found the right wedding and luckily arriving just a few moments before the ceremony started. When the music began to play, people stood up and the gorgeous bride made her way to the altar. My attention was invited to notice the sunny blue skies-- it was a picture perfect day.
Wait a minute. Pause. It was a picture perfect day.
I had just walked for over 30 minutes across a beautiful park on a picture perfect day.
Except, I wasn't "there" for any of it.
Stress, anxiety, and nerves had made it so that I had just walked across a picture perfect park, on a picture perfect day, into a picture perfect wedding and until that moment I hadn't been present for any of it.
A few days after missing my walk in the part, a wise - and timely - teacher shared these words with me:
"How you see things - or don't see them - will determine how you respond to them."
We have choice points at every moment. Points at which we can mindfully choose how to see whatever presents itself in the moment. And how we see them affects how we respond to it.
I had the opportunity to choose a serene walk in the park. But instead, I missed it.
Sometimes life will drop you off at an unexpected place and you may have to figure out your way from there. No matter where you end up, remember that you have a choice. How you choose to see things, will determine your respond to the experience.
Try your best to be mindful: Be there for the walk in the park.