All around you, they’re growing, like tiny blades of grass, if only you’ll stoop down to see them. Little moments of living mindfulness.
So come down for a moment, down from the seemingly lofty heights of ambition and theoretical knowledge and social matters. Drop out of the school of thought that teaches you there’s only one right way to be.
Drop down to earth (perhaps literally). Down to just yourself as a living being right here with other moments of aliveness running through you.
And, wherever you are, just be…
It’s an old story. Old as the hills. And yet new every time it tells itself again.
Have you heard it told to you lately?
The clouds have gathered, thick and dark, on your skies. They’re banked up and rolling heavy to your horizon. Maybe the rains have already started, pouring their grief over everything you know and soaking it all through with shadows. And then maybe the wind starts up. The lightning. It seems everything is going wrong at once.
It’s hard to imagine ever riding out this storm.
And yet, if the story has its way, there will come a moment. A moment you might not notice at first. A moment that can start out smaller than small. But it’s enough.
Enough to invite a shift – an infinitessimal shift – that’s almost no shift at all. Except that it is.
So something tiny changes.
And somehow that awakens the next little change.
Until, gradually, all these fragile moments come together – like countless particles of light converging – almost invisible on their own. But together, slowly, they can start to pull the temperature of your day in a warmer direction. Together, they start to matter.
Have you forgotten your phone anywhere lately? Accidentally left it behind somewhere, until you realised you “needed” it? And it wasn’t there?
(I just did).
It’s amazing how much daily living can be kind of woven through this little device. Pixellated inside it. So seemingly handy. And yet…
When you’re without your phone, are there other parts of your life that you’re more with?
If you forget it, do you remember you?
(And what might that tell you?)
One of the things I love about living in Australia is the grace of the gum trees.
Even in the bustle of the city, they’re dotted around the streets, their leaves quietly whispering of stuff more grounded and true. And recently it’s been the time of year for some of them to shed their bark (like in the photo, above).
It’s an inspiring process in a metaphorical way – a time to slough off the old and let the new parts of you come to the surface.
Sometimes, for the trees, it might look messy for a while, with great strips of their old selves peeling off and swinging in the wind before they fall away. But, with a bit of time and persistence, they come clean again, with brand new skins to face the world in.
So, if you could shed your own bark like these trees, what would you be shedding?
A lot of therapy is about sort of stepping back and seeing things – seeing yourself – from a different perspective. Getting out of the weave and the warp of the moment and looking more at the whole fabric of the situation you’re in. Seeing if there’s any repeating motifs or themes that might help you unlock some solutions… or even unlock parts of you.
And the wonderful thing is that you can do this without being in formal therapy.
Don’t get me wrong, traditional therapy is a great way to get the hang of this pattern-spotting business. And it’s incredibly powerful to work with someone who’s got your back and can help you see any blindspots you might have. But once you’ve become a pattern watcher, you can use it anytime you like, to find deeper insights and often deeper healing, too.
So what sort of things might you try to notice? What helps spot the patterns?
Sometimes questions like these are a good place to start:
Have you ever felt anxious about something that turned out to be nothing?
Worried about an event that never ended up happening (except maybe in your own imagination)?
Perhaps you’ve caught yourself planning for trouble before it actually hit.
And feeling the feelings that comes with all of this…
It can be pretty sickening – a lurch in your gut, a fast-beating heart and sometimes you might even get the sweats. And no wonder. For your thoughts are joined to your feelings – intricately linked. As one moves, the other will probably follow.
So it’s important to keep an eye on your thoughts, to monitor them a bit, so a sudden downward spiral into darker feelings doesn’t catch you unawares. And so you can nip any unnecessary anxiety in the bud if you want to.
I happened to spy this leaf on the path the other day. I was on my way to somewhere else and had my mind on other things, and could easily have walked right past it. Yet there it was.
And now found.
(And in the shape of a heart because of all those things, not despite them).
I was walking in the park this morning. Past the hundreds of thousands of millions of leaves, all applauding each other in the wind.
Which one of them isn’t perfect?
Which leaf hasn’t “lived up to its potential”?
Which has “fallen short”?
They seem like slightly ridiculous questions. (And yet, are there times that you ask them of yourself?)
In light of all of these leaves, the idea of “perfection” seems suddenly a bit lifeless and arbitrary next to the endless, vibrant variations dripping from the boughs.
For many people I know (and for myself at times), 2011 has been quite a hard year. It’s held times of real challenge, times of worry, times of loss. Yet there were still beautiful bits that sparkled through it in the light.
Has it been that way for you?
As we all get ready to farewell 2011 and open a new calendar for 2012, perhaps it’s worth reviewing, for a moment, what we’re actually leaving behind. And what, if anything, you might like to carry forward with you into your future.
For there are clues written into this past year that can help you uncover what’s important and fulfilling to you, how to invite more of that in, and how you want to live your life.
Let’s take a look…
It was on this same trip to work the other day, walking a different way, seeing different things, that I spotted this sign:
“FEED YOUR MIND.”
And it led me to wondering… What are you feeding your mind?
Are you nourishing it?
Or mindlessly stuffing some junk in for a quick bit of rush?
What are you putting in there?
(And what are you hoping to get back out of it?)
In his book, “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,” world renown Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes about mindful consumption. Not just of food. But of everything you ingest: television, conversations, images, thoughts.
So, if you were to look at the typical “diet” you feed your mind, what might you find?