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.
Haiku is one of my favorite forms of poetry. I have tried my pen at writing my own Haiku. I fell in love with the poems of the Haiku masters such as Buson, Bashō, Issa. Buson was a poet and a painter (1715-83). He actually made a living as a painter as he produced haiga which combines haiku with pictures. His poetry is impressionistic as he evokes nature.
For me Haiku evokes deep emotions and takes a snapshot of nature. The following is a poem by Buson I love and hope you enjoy.
Cherry petals scattered
In the water between seedlings of rice
moon and star light!
it is not difficult to practice mindfulness as you read this poem.
Write a Haiku poem about our crazy weather patterns lately.
A Haiku poem is composed of three lines containing 17 syllables in the following pattern 5-7-5. You do not have to worry about rhyme. Please share your poems in the comments of this post. Hopefully other bloggers/poets will add to comments for a continued conversation during National History Month.
May your day be blessed with mindful moments!!!
I have had my share of deeply mindful moments. Today was special. I looked out the window and it was snowing as had been predicted a few days ago. The snow started at about eight in the morning and it was a truly beautiful sight. The thick flakes created a very serene moment. I started getting my camera ready to make a short video clip to send to my grandson who does not get to see snow where he lives. Then I noticed the battery needed charging. I looked outside again and the beautiful white flakes had turned to rain. I had missed the moment.
It is too often that we want to photograph something to capture the moment forever on film but we miss the real moment. There may have been a squirrel frolicking about, also mesmerized by the snow. I may have missed someone looking up in awe of the heavenly white showers.
About a half hour later it started snowing again but it was not the same. The flakes were not as thick. The magic if you will was simply not present.I was so disappointed.
On snowy or rainy days I usually sit to paint or draw. I sat and tried to paint a snowy landscape. I ended up tearing up the paper and doodled instead. I later colored in the blank spaces. The colors reminded me of springtime. My mood changed almost immediately. I had lost that one moment I wanted to videotape but I was able to shift to a new mindset.
Sometimes mindful moments are purposeful and truly meant to help us shift gears to think about other things that help us to be more creative. A video camera captures special moments. Today my special moment was when I doodled my way into springtime. Only about five more weeks to go according to the ground hog. I cannot wait to sit and watch the flowers bloom.
Every exercise to become thinner, healthier or simply more at ease takes time and lots of patience. There is a certain rhythm and pace that you will need to develop as you become more mindful.
I developed a short-term plan for myself at the beginning of my journey. I think of myself as a spiritual person. I pray. I meditate. I like to read to become inspired.
The first thing I did was to go to the book store to get a few books on the concept of mindfulness. I found several books I liked and purchased them. (I will include a list later) I prepared index cards with quotes and ideas that seemed to fit my needs. Then I started a journal. I outlined my journal to cover a period of 30 days or a month. This is my way of making a commitment to the goal I want to carry out.
I jotted down three questions that I would be obligated to respond to every day. These are my three questions:
1. How were you mindful today?
2. What did you learn?
3. How do you think you benefited from the experience?
I tend to be a worry wart. I worry about my kids and grand kids. I worry about things I see happening around the world. My goal to become more mindful was to learn to become more relaxed and “not sweat the small stuff” so much. I kept reminding myself that in general I was pretty lucky. I am grateful for my life and every day is a gift.
I wanted to also develop my creativity and become more mindful of my poetry and writing. As an educator for more than half of my life, I knew that one thing I wanted to do was to help other people in someway. I missed teaching. I felt I was loosing my purpose.
So after keeping a journal for thirty days I realized that I had been on the right tract with my goals and my purpose to becoming more mindful. What I needed to stop paying so much attention to the news. I had become a news junkie after I retired. The truth is that bad news is what gets people’s attention. I try to worry less and pay attention to living and raising my vibe every day.
I started designing the life I truly want to live. I know I still have a lot of things I need to do on my bucket list of sorts. I discovered I have passions for many things and that I need to figure out ways to tap into the resources that will help me become more engaged.
I doodle a lot. I would say almost everyday. This is something I do almost instinctively. It relaxes me. I love the surprise when I am done.
1. Doodle away for about ten minutes.
2. Focus on one thought.
3. Use colored pencils or markers
4. Black and white doodling can also be interesting. Shade empty areas.
5. Reflect and relax.
When I paint or draw I feel I have entered a new dimension. I feel free. I focus on one thought and let the paint brush do the rest. Sometimes, I paint with my right hand and sometimes I use my left hand so that I stay focused. In this painting I switched back and forth. Hope you like it.
“Life just is. You have to flow with it. Give yourself to the moment.
Let it happen.” -Jerry Brown
Art by Melba Christie 2016