Mindful Sanctuary in Our Own Backyard

One reason we love traveling is the novelty or "newness" of the moments. Our minds crave this, and most of the time we're in a constant state of trying to find it. The funny thing is, this "newness" is happening now right under our noses. Nature wants us to notice these changes. So how do we find this inspiration and excitement in our "everyday life?"

In San Diego County, we don't go through the dramatic changes in seasons you find elsewhere. This can give us the sense that the days just kind of melt together, without a lot of distinction. If we haven't left the area in a while, it's easy to forget we enjoy some of the best weather on the planet - pretty much every day. When locally-raised patients learn I lived in Seattle and Scotland, they commonly say, "Oh, I'd love all the rain." Funny thing is, through seven years of living in these places, I never once heard that while I lived there. In fact, when I told people in Scotland and Seattle that I grew up in Southern California they wondered why I left!

So what's with all this wanting to be somewhere else, wanting to see something else, wanting the weather to change? Those are the desires of our mind - and they can really impact our mood, if we let them. It's easy to get anxious, and depressed when we're perpetually wanting something different than what is happening right now. 

Here's an Easy Exercise to Help You Live in the Moment:

  1. Carve Out a Little Time: it can be five minutes or a whole day.
  2. Go Outside: Go someplace that doesn't have gardeners, keeping things pretty. If you're up to a drive, check out the Anza Borrego wildflower bloom - it's happening right now. 
  3. Notice: What do you see, smell, and hear? What's the temperature in the sun? In the shade? Just after the sun sets? Touch some plants (beware poison oak, cacti, etc.) and notice what the leaves and flowers feel like. Notice the smells.
  4. Keep Your Focus: as you come out of this little exercise, notice what has changed within you? How is your mind, and your mood?
  5. Check In Regularly: When you notice worry, panic, or depressing thoughts check back in to this moment. When you start to get dragged along by thoughts, ask yourself "what else am I noticing?" (sounds, smells, sensations).


In Health,

Michael Stanclift, N.D.

Naturopathic Doctor, Carlsbad CA