Friday, September 2, 2016

Memorial Day 2017 - How to Enjoy a Mindful Trip to Disneyland

Tips for Introverts: How to Practice Mindfulness at Disneyland

By Kathleen Lisson

Squeezing up against strangers to dodge a stroller, hearing the shrieks of excited and terrified children catching sight of cartoon characters, the temptation of an ice cream cone on a steamy day. Many call it ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’ but for an introvert all the noise, heat and constant motion of a Disney park can be overwhelming! I enjoy time with my brother and his family at Disneyland, but struggle with the fast, colorful, sugar-fueled pace of the park.

STOP is a wonderful mindfulness practice that helps me enrich quality time with my family, especially during during a visit to Disneyland or another amusement park. To practice STOP, we simply follow four steps and after less than a minute we will be able to more fully focus on and enjoy the present moment.

  • S stands for Stop. Simply take a moment to pause our body and mind, whether we are roasting on the hot pavement in a crowd at Disneyland or stressing over something instead of enjoying a delicious dinner.
  • T stands for take a deep cleansing breath. Just this one moment for ourselves. We can even close our eyes if it feels comfortable.
  • O stands for Observe - what can we sense with our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and hands? The energy of a child’s smile? The smell of the campfire? What do we notice now that we didn’t before? Take a quick inventory with our senses.
  • P is for Proceed. Now that we are oriented to the present moment, enjoy it as we move forward in our day.

I find that there are a few ‘best’ times to try STOP.
  • I start by practicing STOP while riding down the escalator from the Disney parking garage to let go of the stress from sitting in traffic in the morning.
  • I remember to STOP again in the mid-morning when I can feel the park really start getting packed after those first one or two easy, short lines on the kiddie rides.
  • Lunch can be a frustrating time as dozens of hungry families crowd lines in every restaurant. Children can get cranky and food choices can be much different than what our bodies are used to. STOP is a good way for me to take a moment to enjoy the feeling of my family gathered around the same table.
  • Leaving the park for dinner is another emotional time, especially if the family won’t be returning for fireworks. Reflecting on what was good about the day instead of what went wrong can reduce feelings of disappointment, and practicing STOP can give us a good memory of this special trip.

What should you say if a relative catches you practicing STOP? You can explain the technique and encourage them to try it, too, or just smile and mention how you are really enjoying spending time with them. No one has to know you are using mindfulness to make an overstimulating situation easier to handle.

Using STOP has given me an emotional oasis in the churning sea of a hectic, overscheduled vacation. I hope this simple technique can give you similar peace in the midst of busy holiday weekend activities.

Kathleen Lisson is a certified Meditation Teacher and Labyrinth Facilitator and teaches Meditation and Mindfulness at IPSB college in San Diego. Sign up for a private meditation lesson or labyrinth walk in the comfort of your home here:

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