Blind Vision

We see, but often we are blind to what is around us.  Today I want you to focus on one thing that you purchased or was given a year or so ago.  A piece of furniture, an ornament in your home, the cup you use every day, the cushion you sit on, the ring that you wear, for example.

When we see something everyday, we become blind to it. We forget the joy it gave us when we first had it.  We forget how we used to enjoy using it.  We take it for granted, now. 

So take a few moments to re-appreciate the item you chose.   Look at the colour, the shape, feel the texture, notice whether it’s warm or cool, and silently say thanks – to the item that has served you so well, and for the fact that you are fortunate enough to have enough money to buy things, or that you have people who love and care for you so much they give you gifts.

Everyday is a gift.  Everyone in your life is a gift.  Everything you have and experience is a gift.  Don’t forget to feel the gratitude today.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Three Things

We take so many things for granted in our lives.

A good way to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are is to get into the habit of thinking about three things – just three things – that we are grateful for today, and are amazing and incredible in their own right.

The fact that we can see, for example. Or hear, or walk, or talk, the fact that we have teeth to eat food, a chair to sit in, a cup of coffee, a book to read, a friend, a job, money, food to eat, water to drink, a computer, a fridge, a fork to eat with.  Electric light, heating, fresh water in our house.  A flushing toilet, a shower.  Or the beautiful sky, fresh air, a roof over our heads, the birds in the sky, the ants marching on the ground, the bees buzzing around the flowers, the wide variety of trees that surround us. I could go on and on…and on!

So much, yet how little time we spend thinking about it, how little time we spend being amazed and grateful for the incredible bounty that we have around us.

Get yourself a little notebook, and every day, make a note of three things that amaze you, that you’re grateful for having in your life today.  You’ll quickly become more aware of everything around you, and begin to appreciate how lucky you are.

Photo by raza ali on Unsplash

Autumn Leaves

Summer is a riot of colours; followed by lovely autumn, when the colours turn to vibrant hues of yellow, red, copper and gold. Remember how bright the flowers were during summer? Well now it’s time for the leaves to shine and show off.

Look at how the leaves drop one by one, gently falling and twisting before finding their way to the ground. On windy days, the wind requests a last wistful dance and they get up again, swirling merrily before settling again on the ground when the wind has had it’s fun.

Kicking through autumn leaves is a wonderful childlike pleasure of autumn. Listen as the leaves crunch when you step on them, and watch them jump when you kick into them.

As autumn advances, notice how the gold and copper colours turn into a deep brown, and how they start to rot slowly into the soil: providing next year’s nourishment for the trees and plants they surround.

It’s a gift from the old to the new.  Take the time to appreciate their beauty and the nourishment they provide to the earth.

Photo by Bernd Schulz on Unsplash

Dusk

In autumn, dusk descends quite quickly.  Watch the sun sink lower and lower and the how fast the light of the day disappears.

Notice how colours which were bright just a few minutes ago melt into a misty grey, and the world transitions into an old black and white photograph, before descending into a deep 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. 

A Better Start To Your Day

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

Pay Attention To The Journey

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.

Breathe…

One of the quickest ways to calm down and become mindful is to take a few deep breaths.

Breathe….

Breathing is something that we do  so unconsciously that we’re not aware we’re doing it. Taking conscious control of our breathing helps to calm us down and helps us focus.

Breathe…

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.

Breathe…

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.

Breathe…

COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS WELCOME!

Make My Day!

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

Smile…

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.

That’s life.

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.