In autumn, dusk descends quite quickly. Watch the sun sink lower and lower and the light of the day quickly disappears.
Notice how colours which were bright just a few minutes ago melt into a misty grey, and the world transitions into an old photograph, before turning pitch black. Even the shadows hide from the darkness.
Feel the change in temperature, which quickly drops when it’s deprived of the sun’s warmth.
Take the time to look up on evenings where there is little cloud cover, the moon can be seen glittering high above us, like a glowing globe put there to light our way home.
Dusk is a magical, almost mystical time, providing a daily rhythm and natural end to every day. Take a few moments every day to enjoy it, rather than moaning about the dark!
The alarm buzzes and you’re in the zone between asleep and awake – and what you do at this moment can make a huge difference to your day.
In yoga, during the sun salutations, you’ll often hear the instructor say: “now set your intention for the day”. It’s all about creating an awareness of your thoughts, and choosing what thoughts to focus on.
Most people’s first thoughts on a workday are negative (I’ve got to get up NOW and I’m sooo tired, I’ve got to get that report done by 11am, I’ve got to go grocery shopping at lunchtime, I’ve got to go to the dentist after work) – all of which gets your mind on a negative track. And what you think about grows: so if you start your day thinking about the bad stuff you have coming up, your mind will helpfully find other bad stuff to add to the list!
So do this instead – take a couple of deep, slow breaths, and think of the day ahead, focusing on the good things that will happen today. Yes, there are bad/boring/difficult things to come (in most days), but find the good ones, then spend a few moments focusing on them, enjoying them before they even happen.
When you start the day with a positive rather than negative mindset, it changes everything. Your mood, your physical alertness, how you react to events and others, and more.
Try it tomorrow. It will make a difference, I promise!
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
We are simply committing ourselves to paying attention to our life. We use meditation to help us in that attention process. We are not trying to become good meditators. We are trying to wake up.
~ William Martin
When you take the emphasis off the effort of being mindful and onto the results you’re trying to achieve, it becomes easier.
Mindfulness is only the vehicle: it’s just a method you can use to get you to where you want to be.
It is not something in itself to focus on – the journey itself and the destination are far more important.
Focus instead on just being aware of this present breath, this present moment, and your space in it.
One breath at a time.
One of the quickest ways to calm down and become mindful is to take a few deep breaths.
Breathing is something that we do unconsciously and we’re generally not aware we’re doing it. Taking conscious control of our breathing helps calm us down and focus.
It can be hard to become aware of your breathing. The easiest way to connect with your breath is to take a few, abnormally deep and slow breaths first, holding the incoming breath for one second before letting it out again. Once you’ve done this a few times let your breathing pattern return to normal, but keep your focus on it. If you find this difficult (and I do – my mind loves wandering off to explore corners of my brain that it hasn’t visited for a while) try to concentrate on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body.
You might feel it in your nostrils, or your throat, your lungs, or your stomach – wherever you feel it is the place you should focus on. For me, it’s the lungs – on an inhale I feel my chest expand and rise, and my back straighten – on exhale my chest falls and my back goes back to it’s normal position.
Take time to try to ’feel’ the pause between breaths (this is hard because there is nothing going on, but try anyway).
If you lose focus – or more likely, WHEN you lose focus, don’t be harsh and judgemental of yourself. Don’t immediately think that this simple act is beyond your capabilities. Just smile gently and bring your attention back to your breath. Be prepared to do this often – your breath is like a naughty child who will wander off again and again once your back is turned. Just keep bringing it back, bringing it back….and gradually it will learn to stand still. Hopefully.
COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS WELCOME!
On a shopping trip yesterday, I was third in the queue at the checkout. I watched as the sales assistant dealt with the customers in front of me. When it was their turn to be served, she asked, “How are you?” and didn’t show any interest in their mumbled response. She didn’t smile, she didn’t make eye contact, and looked bored and disinterested the whole time.
I decided to see if I could change that for her. So when I got to the front of the queue, and she asked me “How are you?” I responded “I’m very well, thank you for asking. How are you today?”
What followed was a conversation that covered the long hours she’s working today and what time she finishes, her long hours tomorrow, how tired she is when she gets home, the fact that she has the weekend off so she doesn’t mind the long hours over the next few days, and the fact that she has a teenage son – so sometimes she prefers to be at work than at home!
This woman came to life before my eyes. She smiled at me, she looked me in the eyes when she was talking to me, she smiled as she handed me a receipt and told me to enjoy the rest of my day.
It wasn’t a scintillating conversation, on that I’m sure we agree: but I left that woman in a better frame of mind than when I first interacted with her, just because I took the time to engage and talk with her.
It’s easy, so so easy, to make someone feel better: to make their day.
Give it a go – make somebody’s day today!
Photo credit: frankieleon via VisualHunt / CC BY
Smiling: it’s easy to do, yet most of us don’t do it enough. We get caught up in thoughts of what we have to do or what we have done (imperfectly or just plain wrong, according to the thoughts buzzing around our heads); and when things went wrong, instead of when things went right.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect.
Life doesn’t have to be (and rarely is) exactly how you planned it.
Things will go wrong.
People will not always behave in the way that we thought they would, or in the way we would like them to.
Whatever happens in your life today, choose to be grateful;
be happy, and smile for all the good things you do have, and for all the problems that you don’t.