Alpacas and Mindfulness

During times of high stress or anxiety, I often dream - and verbalize to those around me - that my husband and I will soon abandon our corporate jobs and teach yoga full time while living off of our non-existent trust funds move to an Alpaca farm in Montana or Wyoming. I have not yet done research on whether this climate would suit alpacas, but they look like they have sturdy coats and hardy dispositions, and we have some nice winter jackets from our time in Boston just gathering dust in CA.

Here, in the wilds of either Montana or Wyoming (I know they are different states but they sound equally beautiful, awesome, and cold), we will pastorally raise alpacas, do a little farming, have cozy fires, read books, become hermits, and bliss out. We will abandon cell phones and computers. The only apples we have in the house will be edible. We will telegraph our families or send hand-written letters to let them know we are okay. I will make all of our clothes and bedding (after I learn to sew something more than a pillow) - using the alpaca fur! We will ice fish on quaint lakes. We will live truly, deeply, and mindfully.

Don't you also want to move to Montana and have an Alpaca farm?
 We will get bored and quite possibly kill each other in 10 days. Because I am not naive. Alpaca farming is hard work. Living a hermit's life in nature is anything but easy. And I am used to being walking distance from three coffee shops, ten restaurants, Whole Foods, and a gym.

But what is it about the Alpacas that is so appealing? Besides the fact that the couple above is just the cutest thing you have ever seen except for some of those ridiculously adorable cat pictures on Pinterest.

The appeal is simplicity. The thought that being mindful is easier when you are trapped immersed in a simple space is an illusion. Mindfulness is all about the internal reaction to our external environment. I just visualize it as a farm far away.

Here are some phrases that I am trying to obliterate from my lexicon because saying them does nothing to help me to be more mindful:

I am so stressed.
Life is too busy.
Things are too crazy.

Because 99% of the time - the above things could be said about 99% of us. Whether we are farming alpacas, selling insurance, brokering a deal, managing a household with two young kids, or teaching yoga - living life is full of challenges.

You don't need a pastoral lifestyle to get simplicity. Which is a good thing, because as might be obvious, I am not a shepherd.

When we find ourselves in chaos - everything seems so enormous and daunting. And our bodies have a natural fight/flight response. Our brains are so smart - they start to panic for us. Mindfulness takes the space that panic used to fill and puts it to good use. This whole idea of being present allows us to course-correct in the moment - not 24 hours later when we have allowed ourselves to sink into a familiar cycle of anxiety, fear, and the awful feeling of being out of control. We may not always be able to change the external factors that give rise to feelings of stress and anxiety, but we have a responsibility to fine tune our reaction and choose to reframe the situation.

Every day is a new day to practice.

So that we spend less time dreaming about farming, and more time being present and finding joy in the life that we have.

(P.S. Don't count my farm out just yet. I have a great idea for a little yoga studio on-site called OM-paca.)