A meditation teacher's discoveries in Virginia
Meditation teacher Pat Coffey lives about 10 minutes from Shenandoah National Park in rural Virginia where he finds peace and gratitude simply by looking at the mountains from his home or taking a daily walk in nature. He loves hiking the different trails at Shenandoah and finding the waterfalls tucked away in the park.
The founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, co-founder of the Meditation Teacher Training Institute and co-founder of the Blue Ridge Prison Project, Coffey does a traditional Buddhist meditation every day for about an hour, but he says you don't need any training to meditate in nature.
"Part of my healthy regimen is to get outside every day and feel what nature has to offer," Coffey says. "Nature is a pretty calming presence. Stand around a bunch of trees, and you'll feel they're just exuding calm. It's a nature meditation that you don't need any practice to do."
Restoration in Anne Lamott's living room
Those without a travel budget can still escape to find that sense of gratitude, says author Anne Lamott. As in her latest book, "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers," Lamott focuses much of her work and life on gratitude and that ever-elusive search for serenity.
When she feels frayed and depleted, she creates a space on her living room couch she calls the "cruise ship." "This form of travel mainly requires intention to seek serenity, peace and union, with self, with the now, with the divine," she says.
Choose your cruise ship drinks and snacks: "You need a beautiful festive drink. I make cranberry spritzers, with a slice of lime. So gorgeous -- the cranberry red and the lime -- and you get to use your best glasses."
Grabbable foods are important so there's no need to cook. Her choices include guacamole, corn chips, a perfect cheese, strawberries, Tootsie Pops, Hershey's Kisses and cashews.
Choose your sacred texts: For Lamott, "this might be Mary Oliver and Rumi poems, a daily Bible study, a great novel and the latest issue of People magazine."
Her version of yoga: "prone yoga," where she lies around as much as possible. "Plus I have a small skylight above my couch, so I can see sky and birds without the inconvenience of wind and other people."
Her intention is "to stop fighting to get more done, to figure out more, achieve more, impress more, etc. It is the intention to seek union with something bigger than us -- with the ocean, which in the living room is really just the carpet; or with God, or God's people, and in the living room, God's big motley dogs."