Challenging Myself: A Mindfulness Retreat

Mountain viewTomorrow, I will be going on a three day silent retreat; it will be the first time that I will be staying a couple of days. So far, I have ‘only’ experienced one day at a time. The most intriguing thing for me is not the fact that there will be no speaking; nor is it the fact that I will be alone with myself, looking deeply into what lies beyond the conscious mind. No, it is that I will be sharing my room with somebody I don’t know and I won’t get to know as we don’t speak.

Usually I like company and as a student I have always enjoyed these moments of sharing a room or an apartment with people. This time though, it will be different as there will be no ‘getting to know each other’. It will simply be a matter of non-judging, and adapting an appreciative attitude towards the other person for a couple of days. Well, this might be part of the experience but it still sounds a little ‘frightening’ to me!

I am almost certain that I will encounter some reluctance to stay focused and it will be interesting to see how I will deal with these moments of ambiguity and uncertainty. I am sure though that the experience will make me grow and allow me to re-charge my batteries at the end of this year.

2013 has indeed been full of action and change. The road ahead is not yet 100% clear but the mist is starting to lift, like clouds hanging on the mountains and finally disappearing. I wonder what three days of silence will bring… definitely some rest and centeredness!

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

What about being yourself today?


Sometimes in life you have to re-charge your batteries, sit down, mindfully, be on your own and simply BE. Every one of us has different ways of doing so. Don’t be afraid of yourself, look into what really matters and what is important to you.

You are fantastic as you are, no need to change! Remember this wherever you are geographically and personally in your life.

No obligations, no achievements, no targets, simply being with yourself…

That’s exactly what I am going to do for the next days! Jenny

Holiday reflections and mindfulness or would you not want to feel like on holidays all year long?

Holiday reflections

Are you on holidays currently or will you soon be? Well, please observe the people around you very carefully. Do they look like they are enjoying the present moment, being fully present or do they seem worried, preoccupied by the things they left home?

It is an interesting exercise, also for me. Let me tell you what I have seen and observed in the mountains (at least an excerpt of it). First and foremost, I saw many parents with their children looking quite tired as their little ones, full of energy, did not leave them a lot of time for themselves. Many were permanently looking for activities and excursions to do, so that the days were filled and the children occupied.

Then there were the sports and outdoor fans, not missing a single opportunity to practice the physical activity they like. In the mountains you would see them walk past very early in the morning as they would leave to climb up their next peak.

I also saw older people who sometimes look a little annoyed because of all the noise and rush.

Not to forget the many Asian and other tourists who usually don’t have much time and want to see a maximum during their stay.

All these people seemed like they were enjoying themselves; finally being on holidays and having the time to be with family, practicing some sports and hobbies or simply changing scenery. Were they able to leave their worries at home? Switch off their mobile devices and simply disconnect? To be honest, I don’t know but from experience I can tell that most of the people cannot simply let go.

It makes me wonder why we actually have to wait for holidays to enjoy ourselves. Can we not simply live our lives to the fullest every day that comes along by fully being present in every single moment?

Mindfulness certainly gives us the tools to do so. Training our brain is like training our muscles in the gym. The more we train, the better and more skilful we become in using our brain’s capacities.

Would you not want to feel free, empowered and full of energy during the whole year whatever you are doing, instead of waiting for a couple of weeks per year? I certainly do…

If you have not done so already, please follow my blog to stay tuned on Mindful Leadership & Intercultural communication issues. I will also be looking at starting a tips and tricks series as well as adding some other interesting features to my blog. Looking forward to meeting you! Jenny

Standing straight in the eye of the storm

mindful leadership
This week was a week full of action and of change for me; I had the opportunity to live up to what I have been writing about during the last year here on my blog.

Mindfulness and emotional intelligence really empowers I have to say. Where I normally would have been dragged to the ground, like in a vortex, I emerged even stronger as before. Of course there were emotions and feelings as well as lots of thoughts. But the beauty was that I was able to let go, to breath with them and recognize them for what they were: just emotions or thoughts, passing by and then evaporating.

We all have to deal with strong emotions (negative and positive) from time to time. And we all know that we cannot put feelings aside or try to block them. They will surface again, in moments we don’t expect them to, even stronger than before. Hence, accepting what is going on, putting a label to thoughts and emotions, allows us to ‘file’ them, let them go and carry on.

Thank you Gabi, Jacqui, Miriam, Jitendra and Viorela for having brought out even more passion, empathy and emotional intelligence from inside of me. Thank you also for having been yourselves! My thoughts are with you, mindfully.


Enjoying the present moment – The story of the snail

Snail metaphorThe other day I was searching for a bed time story and just randomly picked a book. The story was entitled something along the lines of ‘Invitation for coffee and cake by the racing snails’. It was about a normal little snail which one day was invited for coffee by the racing snails; the only problem was that the ordinary snail was very slow and enjoyed doing everything slowly. The meeting point with the faster snails on the other hand was far away. Nevertheless, our little snail decided to accept the invitation and to ‘hit the road’ directly in order to arrive on time two days later.

On its way it passed through a field of fresh salad and found that it had never seen such great salad in its life. It hence stopped to eat. Then it was tired and found a perfect place to sleep and so on. At first it thought: “oh no, I am going to be late” but then it simply decided to enjoy the present moment and everything it saw along the way.

In the end it arrived (obviously) too late where it was supposed to be and all the other snails were long gone already. The cake was eaten and the coffee can empty. A little bug walking by wondered why the snail was looking so happy and content although there was nobody left at the party and thus questioned it. The snail simply responded that it did not matter as now it would have all the time it needed to enjoy the journey back and do everything slowly as it was used to.

I must say that I found this story excellent as it is a wonderful metaphor illustrating how much nicer it can be to walk mindfully through your life, enjoying every single moment of it and living here and now, instead of running without noticing what surrounds you, as small as it might be! We should enjoy our journey through life and stop striving for something far away in the future. We have the opportunity to be happy and fulfilled here and now and it is up to us to decide to live our lives that way.

What about you? Are you living the present moment or just passing through your own life?

Have an excellent Sunday!


I go among trees and sit still

Beautiful poem describing my mindfulness retreat in silence today; Found here:

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
Around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
Where I left them, asleep like cattle…
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

By Wendell Berry from Sabbaths, 1987, North Point Press