Mindfulness and Reflections from a Sydney Ferry

I had the pleasure of using public transport in Sydney last week in the form of a ferry ride across the harbour where I spent half an hour enjoying balmy skies, the sea and the sheer beauty of this amazing city.

When I boarded the boat I had to make a decision about where to sit. Wanting the fresh air I opted for what I thought was the front of the boat and found myself sitting at the back! I watched the city recede into the distance and pondered on the difference between looking at where you had been as opposed to where you were heading. And of course the metaphor for life was clear. I like to look forwards. I’m a coach!  It’s in our DNA. But as a Counsellor, I also know it is very useful to look backwards to see what might need understanding better to allow us the freedom to enjoy our future.

And I was reminded of Martin Seligman’s belief of our need to have a healthy relationship with past, present and future. Put simply, when we look back into our past, do we do so with gratitude or regret? And when we look into the future, do we face it with anxiety or anticipation? It seemed very appropriate for the occasion as I scanned the city looking for familiar landmarks of where I had lived, worked and played and funny memories came up for me. I really focused on all the enjoyment I had had over the years. So my choice of seat on that ferry gave me the opportunity of nurturing my healthy relationship with the past. 

And the future, well sure, I was looking forward to the meetings I had planned and curious to know what might come out of them. Also looking forward to strolling through Manly’s streets on a gorgeous sunny day. But as the journey progressed and I settled into the experience, I realised that what was really happening was that wonderful experience of “time out” and total mindfulness of where I was right at that moment. 

People report feeling very “grounded” (!) when they are in the sky flying somewhere. I have experienced this feeling too. It’s as if we are between places and that sense of freedom that the travelling interval gives us, helps us clarify exactly where we are in our lives, relationships, businesses. Long live travel and the chance it gives us to be mindful.