My day to day life tends to have me feeling like I am rushing off to my next destination, whether it’s to CrossFit or work or to a doctor’s appointment or to meet up with a friend. I always feel like there is somewhere I am supposed to be. I do not know if it is a societal standard or my own self- inflicted standard, but it is as if I am supposed to fill every waking minute with something. (FOMO anyone?) I will have moments of being at home, just relaxing on a Saturday with a nagging sense like I need to get off my couch and be out and about (even if every fiber of my being just wants to unwind and do NOTHING).
Recently, being on a retreat at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I was able to really slow down and disengage from most of the world, without guilt I might add. Two of the biggest lessons that this trip affirmed for me are:
- It is life’s simplest pleasures that matter the most.
- I have the ability within myself to find happiness and contentment.
By not getting much of a signal on my phone at the lake (I will thank the portal for that!), it really allowed me to enjoy my surroundings and get lost in the moment. Some of my most treasured memories are the moments where I truly appreciated nature. Being immersed in it gave me such a constant feeling of gratification. I appreciated the simplicity of being able to just lay out on the dock, listening to the water rustling and swooshing around me which magically managed to silence my typically very busy, obsessive brain. To be able to wake up for a sunrise boat ride was happiness a thousand times over. To be able to witness the lake, the mountains and the volcanoes come to life before my very own eyes was indescribable. To watch the sky change from black to a radiant blue with pops of yellow, orange, and pink is something that is forever engrained in my mind.
When you remove all the noise and distractions from the world, you appreciate what is around you allowing yourself to truly be lost in those moments. It definitely helped me be more centered, and I came to understand something important about myself. At my core, I really do not require much nor am I very fancy. (I will put this disclaimer in: I do not mean to say that I would turn down the finer things in life. I do drive a Lexus and I did buy myself diamond stud earrings… once). I just mean when I reflect on the moments when I feel the most at peace, they have very little, if anything, to do with materialism.
Being in nature is known to have a calming effect on people, so it is no wonder that I fell in love with Guatemala. There were no TVs nor was everyone on their phones 24/7. It was the perfect environment to really unwind and disconnect. I used much of my free time reading (I had to feed my Outlander addiction). I wrote in my journal quite a bit, reflecting on all the unique things I experienced, like the Cacao Ceremony, my reading with a Shaman and the Mayan Fire Ceremony. I did not walk away from these events but rather adopted them into my being. They gave me so many opportunities to really think about myself and my intentions in life. It gifted me the knowing that there is plenty that comes from within me to bring me happiness without having to rely on much.
For a few of us who were on the retreat, we keep saying that we have not left Guatemala. In our own ways, we each took something with us when we waved good-bye to that gorgeous sapphire lake. I am eternally grateful to Lake Atitlan for enabling me to slow down and regain a sort of calmness and contentment that I have not felt in a long time.