Like the Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), the American White Water Lily (or Water Lily) roots into the muck below the water, produces leaves at the surface of the water, and sends the flowers just up into the air to reveal their beauty. Such a growth process is reflective of the process of human enlightenment. Buddhist artwork regularly uses Lotus images to symbolize enlightenment, and from this the founders of The Lodge at Woodloch were inspired to use the lotus in our logo as a symbol of the Awakening Philosophy.
It is quite easy for the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day to carry us far removed from the simple beauty of the present moment. Stress builds and tension persists when we spend too much time “in our heads” thinking about responsibilities and challenges and the infinite details of work and daily life. From this state of tension comes anxiety, hypertension, insomnia, and other such plagues of the modern lifestyle; along with the need to relax and become more present.
Exercises in presence begin with the breath. There is a reason why the advice “take a deep breath” is so universally offered to help those who are emotionally excited, receiving massage, or needing to focus. Focusing on the breath as you receive it deep into the abdomen brings one into the moment, focuses and relaxes the mind, and releases unnecessary mental chatter. The breath is a repeating focus at The Lodge; from massage and shiatsu, to yoga and tai chi, to various fitness activities.
Everyday the Water Lily blossoms open and close with the sun. This is like the process of spiritual awakening. Simple ways to become more centered and present (and counter the negative effects of the daily grind) include playing wholeheartedly with small children and taking a short stroll while listening to the birds and looking at the plants. The benefits from these kinds of activities are, of course, multiplied when the breath is full and deep and the mind is clear of excessive chatter.
The next step before a full-blown vacation is a short day or weekend trip, such as hiking, camping, or a visit to The Lodge at Woodloch. The benefits of a trip of any length can be significant. Even one day in the sun can counter weeks of overworking. But many people enjoy the deep relaxation of longer periods away. Ultimately a vacation, day trip, or hike is not about getting away but is about being present. The relaxation that comes with some time away allows us to take the time to enjoy life through simple pleasures like an opening Water Lily blossom. The Lodge’s offerings are designed to facilitate such an awakening.