When we hear the term- ‘being present’ or ‘being in the moment’, you can be forgiven for saying it sounds so cliche.
But mindfulness is not just a word thrown about by certain types of people, it is actually a thing. Something that can be very rewarding if you practice it in your own way. With our uniqueness we develop our own way within what is defined creating our own sense of awareness.
How? you ask.
What is the word actually suggesting?
Lets look at the definition:
1: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2: a mental state achieved by focusing on one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations…
I’ve chosen to equated it to moments..
So I could be in the home, working on something, focused to some degree and then I hear the sound of laughter..
I never get tired of hearing the sound of Laughter.
Each of my children laugh differently but with similarities and no matter what I’m doing, when I hear them laugh, I stop and smile and even chuckle a bit as I imagine the expression on their faces – if I’m in a different room.
When my husband is having regular banter with the kids the sound of their collective laughter is everything, in amongst all their chitter chatter, the laughter is pure magic! Pleased by those simple things…. every time.
One of my brothers, when I hear his laughter, he has a particular laugh that requires him to fling his head back, mouth open wide to express the humour in what he has just heard. A big hearty expression of laughter I just love it! It never fails to evoke an inward laugh, even thinking about it now I find myself smiling.
I love laughter, can you tell?
So what has laughter to do with anything? Well nothing to be honest, only that sometimes it’s absolutely necessary for us to just notice what we sometimes fail to see, just the little things, a moment that causes you to inhale or smile. The way a captured moment can be freeze framed a little longer or the ways it makes you feel inside.
Stop to acknowledge that feeling.
Moments are so fleeting, they come and go with the blink of an eye, so take the time to stop and take it all in.
Take a deep breath and just pay attention. Think about how you are feeling in that moment, acknowledge and honour it.
Pay attention to who ever you are with, or the silence you are in, the scenery of a newly discovered or familiar place.
You choose the moment, but here’s the condition: If you are in the company of another person, really look and pay attention to them. Particularly loved ones and especially at this time. Who knows when we will be restricted again from face to face visits and contact. I’m sure loved ones won’t mind you staring at them, I guess it will probably be quite nice to have a moment with you where they actually have your full attention.
I did this a few weeks ago when I went to visit my mother.
My Father was out for the day so I went to give her some company as since lockdown she spent a long time without really seeing us, her kids and grandchildren.
The day was lovely, bright and warm, very warm with the sunshine as beautiful as ever. We sat around the garden table on the patio in their south facing garden backing onto the park as it captured the sun in all its glory. We drank iced cool homemade lemonade. So refreshing and beautifully thirst quenching.. umm lovely.
Their cat, Tiddles basks in the warm summer sun, on her back, just under the plum tree on the grass towards the back of the garden. The sun rays fall through the leaves and Tiddles wags her tail slowly back and forth with squinting eyes, as she sniffs and enjoys the air.
We both notice the different bird sounds and identify the green parakeets that had recently been visiting the nearby trees, singing such a different song from the ones we had grown accustomed to.
A single plane flies overhead at one point, a lot less planes than was the norm, before COVID-19 came to stay. It took my attention for a split second.
Anyway, we talked, we drank and ate a lovely salad surrounded buy clean cream roses, pink hydrangeas and the pop of colours from the other flowers in their garden.
We talked about anything and everything. Her childhood, school days, the kids and putting the world to rights.
As I listened to her stories, I look in her face and notice her remarkable skin, the only lines gracing her lovely face are laughter lines that sit formally above the dimples on both cheeks that appear whenever she smiles.
Mummy is in her late 70’s and she has looked after herself well. I remember thinking, hope I look as good as she does when I am her age! Those genes, yes please!
The brown in the colour of her eyes, shone in the sunlight, almost glistened.
I could see my tiny reflection looking back at me.
She wore her bronze printed sleeveless dress with a tan crochet cardi and sandals on her feet. Tufts of her salt and pepper coloured hair revealed under her headscarf.
I breathe slowly, listening to Mum, taking it all in.
I decided to leave my phone on silent and chose not to check it, all the while praying I don’t get any urgent calls. For our moment together was to be uninterrupted. Sometime in the past mum had complained that I kept checking my phone. I was seemingly absent without leaving, only there only in body and I’ve had to put the phone away so as not to offend further.
This time was gonna be different, I made sure of that and there was no denying, she appreciated it, just being able to sit together, talk, laugh and be present without the pressures the daily distractions put on us. It made a difference.
In the middle of it all, we spontaneously touch each other’s hand, I hold onto hers and just stroke it. She looks me in the eyes and tells me “I Love You”. I get it. Butterflies tickle inside my belly, she touched my heart and I tell her the same right back. A cherished moment that has become a loving memory that now flashes upon my inward eye and warms my heart.
I am grateful.
I didn’t set out to practice a moment of mindfulness as most people would know it. I just decided I would visit mum with a conscious difference.
The way I would pay attention to that moment, to her, would be different.
I decided to be more ‘present’.
Our lives can get so busy, with distractions coming in every direction. Work, kids, the tech world, information overload. The lockdown exposed this when we were forced to slow down or push the pause button. It changed the game and how we play it.
Note to Self: Life is short and we don’t get a 2nd chance to relive any day that has already passed so sometimes we just need to make that conscious effort to just be in the moment, especially whenever we are with our loved ones or are doing something we really love to do.
Soak it up with all your senses, the sights, the sounds, how we feel.
Look for more opportunities to be present, find them in each day perhaps. I guess we just need to stop once in a while to see them.
As an end note, There will be bad feelings too. Allow yourself to acknowledge them, feel them, but try not to hold onto them. Allow the bad feelings to pass through like visitors, don’t give them permanent residency in your mind.
Remember: Time is but a moment. It quickly passes by and away it flies…