Contemplation and Mindfulness

“When I dance, I dance;

when I sleep, I sleep;

yes, and when I walk

alone in a beautiful orchard,

if my thoughts drift to far-off

matters some part of the time,

for some other part I lead them

back again to the walk

the orchard, to the sweetness

of this solitude, to myself.”

– Montaigne

 

It is easy to become very distracted these days. I had two episodes where I could not remember where I had put things. I hate it when I lose things or misplace them.  I usually try to go back and think about the things I did before I realized something was lost or missing.  I have learned to accept that as I grow older I will also start to experience more senior moments of forgetfulness.  But, the truth is that I simply have to practice more being present in the moment.

We need to bring ourselves to a place of contemplation and awareness.  Today I tried very hard to leave my frustration behind after I discovered I lost my camera.  I was more upset that I would not recover the SD card where I had stored very special moments. I suppose what annoys me is that my photographs marked moments that would not be repeated in the same way again.  I missed relishing the present when I picked up my camera to capture a given moment on film or digitally.

Contemplation and awareness of the moment was compromised. I was there to take the picture but not present in the moment.  And to add insult to injury my collection of moments are also gone forever.

I decided I would not stress over the lost camera or the SD card full of beautiful moments with nature, my grandchildren,  family and friends. Instead I listed ways to stay focused and more aware.

“Mindfulness calls on us to come out of the future and past thinking – and to simply be in the present. The past is no longer here, the future has not happened. The only thing that is true is the present.”

I found out that being mindful helps my memory.  It improves my attention span. It reduces stress and depression.  I had a few videos that I never really looked at. One of them focused on breathing and meditation.  I embraced the moment and paid attention to my body as I breathed in.  I did this for a few minutes and found that paying attention to my breathing actually made me more at ease.

I still have not found my camera along with the SD card that is priceless to me. But I found something even more priceless,  I discovered a bit more of myself.

 

 

If you thought not

If you thought not,

everything, everything

and then some

has its wonders.

Although sometimes I wonder

why mosquitoes exist.

I made a list of things that have wonder in my opinion.

 

Like watching a small plant start to bud,

A community of ants doing their thing,

raindrops sliding down a window,

A weeping willow,

dimples,

holding hands,

a whisper of sweet nothings,

A robin’s nest,

shadows,

soft buttery mashed potatoes,

really crispy  french fries,

someone knitting,

whistling a happy tune,

chocolate sprinkles on ice cream,

a bumble bee,

not knowing,

knowing,

sighs in unison,

freshly cut grass,

a frozen lake,

fog,

A cool shower after a long run

the sound of spreading whipped cream on a slice of apple pie

There are so many things.

Be still and mindful and you will see.

What are the things you consider to be wonderous?

 

I Wish I Were Under the Tuscan Sun

I just finished watching Under The Tuscan Sun for about the tenth time. The landscapes depicted in the film always force me to take a deep cleansing breath. I particularly love the scenes with hills filled with sunflowers; one of my favorite flowers. As the protagonist  in the film, played by Diane Lane, I too am mesmerized by the peacefulness and serenity that surrounds her gorgeous new property. Every time I watch this movie I want to get on a plane to visit this part of Italy.

I suppose that art in its every form can help us practice mindfulness. Watching films that show and focus on change of scenery and being closer to nature most definitely is a great way to become still and calm. Watch the following clip and you will know what I mean.

The video is not from the film; but it does show some very tranquil scenes. Many movies transport you to other spaces and places. They can truly inspire and help us to release stress. Of course nothing beats taking a walk through the woods or driving through the country side and really seeing nature up close.

“Mindfulness practice holds the promise of helping us see how the mind works-in particular how it creates suffering and how suffering can be alleviated.” Diane Lane plays Frances or Francesca as everyone ends up calling her in the movie. She has recently divorced and ends up buying a house in Tuscany. She had no idea this would happen; it was an impulsive and courageous move. Her determination to find happiness in this new environment helps her to revisit her writing.

She forgets her suffering and begins to understand more about herself. Her initial suffering is alleviated because she learns to see and be mindful.

Inspired by her character I started a landscape painting full of sunflowers. We need to learn to understand the habits of our mind. It takes a lot of practice to accomplish this. I am leaning that I also need to be patient and simply make sure I look at the beautiful views accessible to me even if once in a while they come packaged in a DVD.

Where are you going?

My mother always answered that question a tad sarcastically. I guess she figured we as children had no business asking her where she was going. Her response was in Spanish and it may also be that the question itself may be interpreted differently when asked in Spanish. Her response, “To be old” (in Spanish – “Para vieja”) meaning there was no other alternative. We are all going to get or be old.

I think about her repeated answer more now that I am older and a grandmother. But I do not really think of myself as being any older. I know I have matured but I think I still think like a younger person. When I was younger I always wanted to be older. I could not wait to be eighteen then I could not wait to be twenty-one. Now I think about why I was in such a rush and I wish I were twenty-one again. But knowing what I know now, of course.

I came across this quote by Eddie Cantor that young people in a rush should think about.

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

This thought made me reflect on what I may have missed as I was such in a rush to be older. I was not mindful of the now and present at that time. I missed almost a decade thinking about what tomorrow would bring and forgot to live in the present. It seems that for a long time, life passed me by while I was paying attention to nothing really.

Practicing mindfulness helps to slow down and enjoy life. It helps you to appreciate the moment, the present.

Here are a few exercises to get you into the rhythm of the moment.

  1. What happened today that made you happy?
  2. What distracted you from doing something enjoyable?
  3. What color was the sky just before sunset?
  4. Did you experience any synchronicity today?
  5. Pick a flower you love; examine it and describe it.

I would love to hear about your experiences and get feedback. Happy trip to wherever and take it slow!

 

Making Your Path

“Mindfulness is energy that helps us recognize the

conditions of happiness that are already

present in our lives.”

 

Everyone needs energy. We all need positive energy. When we want to start making a path to success, we must work harder. It takes much courage to take the path less taken. But I believe if we never take the path which may be unfamiliar to us but necessary to complete our path here on earth, then we miss a very important mark.

Sometimes we just need to close our eyes and visualize the path we are to follow. Whatever our true nature is then that is our true path. Mindful journeys are innately mapped out.

Don’t lose focus on what truly matters in life. We take the wrong path or fall when we are not focused.

Think about this idea next time you come to a crossroad. But also think about what Machado advises:

“Walker, there is no path, you make the path as you walk.” – Antonio Machado

“Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.”

Mindful of Stress

It seems that people are more open to talking about being stressed out. The question is how to lessen and relieve stress. Every time we watch the news we are bound to elevate our stress because so much news is negative. When tragedy hits in the form of mass shootings or natural catastrophe stress creeps into our psyche.

This month I have practiced trying to be more mindful of stress and immediately using some techniques to reduce it.

The following are some ways to lessen the impact of stress:

  1. Sit in a quite spot. Relax your shoulders and place your palms on your thighs.
  2. Let your gaze fall to the floor.
  3. Take a deep breath.
  4. Scan every part of you body and watch as you try to relax.
  5. Do not allow yourself to become distracted. Stay focused on getting your self as relaxed as possible.

We will continue to post different techniques to help you relax and become more mindful of stressful triggers.

Have a beautiful day!