‘peaceful mind – open heart’

Sometimes Boris and I like to create a new challenge for ourselves.

Right now I am not talking about the challenge of finding a property in Portugal that could eventually become our yoga retreat centre. I am talking about moving towards what feels good long-term versus short-term. Usually short-term satisfaction is easy and quick, but does not necessarily create a positive contribution long-term. Therefore we feel that it can be helpful to challenge ourselves to create more balance in our lives. Let me just give an example of our newest challenge.

Short-term satisfaction is spending our evenings on our phones scrolling mindlessly or watching entertaining videos. This is easy and requires very little effort, but in the long-term it doesn’t feel good for me. I would feel better using my evenings to create, reflect, relax and mindfully engage in whatever brings me joy. Yesterday we decided to give ourselves a new challenge for the duration of one week. This is it: after dinner we switch off our phones and laptop and do not use them until the next morning. Let’s see what happens… What will we do with our free time?

Now this is what happened yesterday: At first I felt bored and annoyed by my own challenge and I didn’t know what to do. But I knew this is usually a good sign. Because when I stay with this feeling I will end up doing something creative. After a while I started drawing, then I felt inspired to write and then I remembered how good it feels to be creative. How much better it feels to create than to consume.

Usually we like to give these challenges a time frame. It makes it less intimidating to start and it gives us the chance to evaluate. And of course it does not always work the way we imagined. I remember we started taking cold showers every morning. We were even following an online course, learning about the benefits and how to do it. But after a while we were just feeling cold the whole day and I’m actually very happy that we stopped the cold showers.

Another challenge started several months ago when we decided to eat fully vegan for half a year to find out how it will effect our well-being. Once we started it was pretty easy to keep going and we are enjoying it a lot. Of course we don’t eat lettuce all day. We are also very good at making vegan burgers and we know where to get vegan pizzas. But of course we eat all the healthy stuff too. The only difficulty remains when it comes to dinner with family and friends. Our solution so far: we offer to cook and that works really well. Just sometimes we wonder how we can socialise here in Portugal with our vegan lifestyle and not even drinking coffee. How do you explain that to your new Portuguese neighbors and friends? To be continued…

Just a few days before Boris 45th birthday he came up with another great challenge: doing yoga every morning for one year, this new year for him being forty-five. Doing yoga together is really fun and very motivating. We each do our own practice, but we start together and afterwards we might do some push-ups. Most important is that we are doing these challenges for fun and if it doesn’t bring joy, satisfaction and balance then we stop. When it becomes an obligation, heavy or stressful, then we just let go. Not taking it all too serious but giving it a proper try to find out if these little lifestyle changes can enrich and balance our lives. So for now this is it. But I’m sure we will come up with new challenges all the time or revive old ones that got forgotten.

What are your challenges to create more balance in your life? Do you have any ideas what we could try next? And I’m still looking for nice evening activities that don’t involve a screen. Any tips?

Sending you love and courage to challenge yourself,
Sophie & Boris

P.S. Since we started the no phone/no laptop evenings we are both very eager to do the dishes and clean the kitchen after dinner. I don’t know if that is a coincidence or just a great side-effect of this challenge.

Portugal, November 2020