This week the daily meditation on one of my favourite apps, Calm, focussed on Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga or hue-gah), a Danish word which cannot be exactly translated, but refers to a ritual where one can find enjoyment and comfort in life’s simple pleasures. It encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and wellbeing through enjoying the simple things in life, sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of others. It’s a big part of Danish culture and is credited to be one of the reasons why Denmark features at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries, despite their long, harsh winters, as Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen, discusses in his “Little Book of Hygge – Danish Secrets to Happy Living”
Enjoying life’s simple pleasures is a concept that we have been exploring in my Feminine Wisdom course, which we completed last week. These rituals and practices, which we so often bypass in favour of ticking off things on our “to-do” list, are in fact our soul food. They are the things that really nourish and restore us if done mindfully and with a feeling of self compassion and gratitude.
These may be as simple as making a cup of tea or coffee in a beautiful mug or cup, and enjoying it mindfully in a special spot – being fully present to the taste, smell, feel and the whole experience. Or it may be going for a walk with a friend, enjoying each other’s company and noticing the light dancing between the trees. Or it may be buying or picking flowers every week, just for you, and really enjoying them every time you see them. Or it may be walking outside, barefoot on the grass, fully aware of the feel of the grass and the earth beneath your feet, and the sights and smells around you. Or it may be lighting candles at a mealtime. Or it may be reading your book in a delicious bath. The list is endless. It’s really not about “doing” anything particular. It’s more about receiving the joy and pleasure that comes from taking time to restore ourselves.
So often we do these practices when we’re on holiday. We find it much easier to be fully present and engaged when we are away from our daily lives. We stop and admire the sunrises and sunsets, we walk outside, we slow down and enjoy our coffee. We connect with our friends and family. But, when we return to our busy and often overwhelming lives, these rituals, which are most valuable to us, are the first to slip off our radar. It’s so important that we reframe these hygge moments. And instead of feeling that they’re self indulgent and a waste of time, rather to embrace them and to look at ways of creating small moments every day. These are the things that will keep us feeling content, grateful, happy, loving and will restore our faith in life and the world around us. They are a simple way of learning to live more mindfully and present in our lives, and as a result we experience far more connection, joy and gratitude.
On another note I’m learning a lot more about mindfulness as I embark on the Post Graduate Certificate in Mindfulness through the University of Stellenbosch. It’s a two year course and our first retreat was this past weekend – a deep dive into living more mindfully, with presence and awareness. Self compassion comes into the practice of mindfulness a lot – something that most of us are not very good at. We’re good at the pushing, striving and trying harder, and not so good at being kind and caring towards ourselves, which is why our mindful moments or moments of hygge are even more important.
Over the coming weeks and months I wish you many moments of hygge, and of mindful awareness, and I look forward to sharing what I learn and experience with you. I will also be running another Feminine Wisdom course soon and will keep you posted about upcoming dates – I hope to share this special journey with you!
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