Sri Lanka/Buddhism and Mindfulness

We were fortunate to go to Sri Lanka as possibly our last family holiday, on quite an exclusive package but once out there it is a very cost effective place to visit.

Sri Lankan people seem to have a very happy disposition when the majority of people do not have a great deal of material wealth. It is easy for us to forget that they suffered a tsunami in 2004; 40000 died in Sri Lanka. It was only 2009 that Sri Lanka managed to end the civil war which they had suffered from for 26 years.

In the UK after 5 years of recession, we think we have had it pretty tough, but nothing in comparison with so many other countries. In fact looking back at my own generation we have been very lucky, with relative prosperity, no world wars, and the Irish conflict and subsequent terrorism being the only issues.

Sri Lanka is divided into 70% Buddhism, with the remainder being Hindu, Muslim and Christian (Note the war was not about religion). I know little about Buddhism. When we were at the ancient city of Polonnaruwa we were honoured to walk around a passageway behind the statue of Buddha in a temple. The door on the left was high to allow the Buddhist monks to walk through with all their troubles on their shoulders. We walked Behind Buddha in a couple of minutes. When the Buddhist monk does this they take 15/20 minutes taking minute steps and taking time to meditate as they walk. When they come out of the very small door on the right their troubles have been removed. I don’t meditate myself but when I studied it they say 20 minutes of meditation a day can extend your life by 5 years!

Mindfulness is something else you may have heard about recently. Last week’s Evening Standard explained it as “at its root, that’s exactly what mindfulness is – awareness. Not only of who we are and what we feel, but our surroundings in the present moment. So that when we are brushing our teeth, we focus on the brush, instead of worrying about the gas bill. This slowing down reduces stress, and therefore anger”. Whether it is meditation or mindfulness these are methods to help us feel calmer, be more self accepting and ready to face the next challenge.

So what is the theme of my message this month? Do not take for granted how lucky we are. If you can afford to go on long trips enjoy them to the maximum and leave your work Blackberry at home. When you work hard throughout the year you deserve 2 weeks of solid relaxation and time and thoughts away your job.

If you can afford to get there Sri Lanka has something for everybody. Weather, Safari Parks, 8 World Heritage sites, many modes of transport (when I wrote this we had a day which included a motor vehicle, elephant, bullock powered cart, catamaran, Tuk Tuk and finally a hotel buggy)

My only call to action this month is make sure you take time for yourself, enjoy yourself and maximise (and remember) all the opportunities you have. If you need to relook at your life/work balance, contact me at or see my website


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