I was hanging out the washing in the backyard yesterday, mildly annoyed with having to do this chore, when I happened to glance over my shoulder.
This butterfly filled my vision…
And suddenly the mundane became exquisite.
Have you had one of those moments lately? Where something small sort of awakened you and seemed to elevate whatever you were doing, bringing it richness and depth.
It’s this ‘small stuff’, and the paying of attention to it, that mindfulness embraces. The everyday, yet miraculous, stuff that we see, hear, sense, feel, are.
So instead of glossing over something that you might already have encountered before (like your trip to work, or hearing the sound of rain, or hanging out the laundry), mindfulness asks you to remember that that’s actually impossible.
That ‘you can’t step into the same river twice.’*
That you’ve never lived this particular moment before.
That it’s different from all the others you’ll ever experience.
And your whole life is made up of these moments; these little universes unto themselves…
Yet how often are we really in them?
How often do we sort of sit back and live our lives at the distance of intellectualization or rationalization or busy-ness or boredom instead?
How often do we ignore this life, this moment, that we’re actually in – instead, daydreaming about what we might wish would happen, or wishing that this present moment wasn’t happening? Or projecting ourselves forwards or backwards in time, remembering past pain or imagining future plans. Ignoring our present.
It seems a pretty risky deal in some ways – to trade all that you have right now (this moment, this piece of your life) for something already gone or perhaps never to be. To exchange a fragment of you and of the world for something else which is quite possibly unattainable.
(Especially as, just like the butterfly in my backyard, we have such a limited time here).
Maybe that’s why so many therapies, like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are bringing mindfulness into their work.
So what would it be like to try it for a moment?
For this moment.
To just delve into the life you do have.
Just into whatever is…
To see what’s around you.
To hear it.
And perhaps to notice if these ‘small’ pieces of your life can also illuminate the bigger picture…
Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
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Last reviewed: 31 Jan 2011