portugal, part 2

ommmmmmm

Greetings. Shalom. Namaste. Did I mention I became a meditation master while I was away, and am now officially zen as eff? …if I did, I was lying, because I’m still fairly useless at shutting off my brain for a time out.

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But – I did learn that meditation is not just sitting still on a yoga mat, “om”-ing, and thinking nothing. Breathing exercises, chanting, mantras, even dancing (!?) can all be part of the whole getting-your-zen-on thing. Every evening before yin yoga, we had a half-hour meditation session, and each day we tried out a different style. For the most part, I struggled. I don’t know if it’s just my terribly short attention span or what, but somewhere in the middle of each attempt at meditating I’d snap back to the present moment and realize I’d been daydreaming about cats or something stupid and had forgotten all about the mantra I was supposed to be repeating. …I tried??? I did find the dancing meditation pretty cool though. As weird as it sounds – we did a simple four-step dance for fifteen minutes, followed by 5-10 minutes of just spinning around, then lay in corpse pose/savasana for ten minutes. And yes – I am aware that sounds like a bunch of crazy and not at all like meditation, but it did kind of quiet my mind! I think, being so clumsy, the effort of remembering the steps and making sure I didn’t fall over kept me focused on the dance and not on my thoughts. I don’t know. It’s weird. If you want a better explanation, maybe google dancing meditation or OSHO.

Another kinda weird thing I really really like? Thai massages. A one-hour treatment was included in my stay at omassim, and after reading about the options for types of massages, I went with the Thai. Because I have no idea how to explain it, here are the wise words of Wikipedia : “Traditional Thai massage uses no oils or lotions. The recipient remains clothed during a treatment. There is constant body contact between the giver and receiver, but rather than rubbing on muscles, the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked.” Anyway. I’ve had Thai massages before, but both were in sketchy little spas in Bangkok, so I wasn’t sure how they’d compare to a certified masseuse. Both straight-outta-Bangkok and middle-of-Portugal versions were goooood; it’s such an odd balance of pleasure and pain. Afterwards I just felt so stretched out and wonderful.

So – yoga and meditation and massage to keep my brain and my body happy…Eduardo’s fabulous cooking to make my belly happy! I feel like I ate SO MUCH at every meal, but it was all so delicious it was hard to resist. Everything was vegetarian, but in a very low-key, chill type of way. By that I mean, they didn’t preach about how everyone should give up meat, or look down on those of us who aren’t actually vegetarian in real life (I feel like I might need a little rant on this soon, stay tuned). Instead, it was more like “hey, here’s your dinner. It’s frigging delicious, and it just happens to be vegetarian.”

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And of course, Portugal itself: beeeeeeyoutiful. I’d never even thought of going there until I started looking into affordable yoga retreats/flights, so it was really just luck that brought me there. But wowza. I wish I had had more time to explore, because my wandering around the streets near Ericeira and mini road-trip to Sintra didn’t even make a dent in all the gorgeous spots to check out. Coulda been the sunshine that I’m so deprived of here at home, but everything was the level of beautiful that photos just can’t convey.

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*sighhhh* And then to come home to the cold dreary days of Newfoundland. Fun times.<3

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