Over the last few months I have heard a light tap on my kitchen window though I have no idea what is making the noise…
What did you do yesterday? Or Tuesday of last week? Can you give me a play by play? Maybe you did some writing, spent 8 long hours at your job and took the kids to soccer. But, did you taste your coffee, feel the air on your skin, notice the smile of a stranger, stoop to pet the fluffy kitten peeking out from behind the neighbor’s garage or see what your children were wearing before they left for school? I didn’t. And I have no idea what I did last Tuesday in the 16 or so hours I was awake or even yesterday. I can’t tell you what my boys were wearing or what the point was to my Son’s spiel about his video game. Because I wasn’t really there. I often am not there. I am pre-planning the next few hours, weeks, or years. I am on auto-pilot. A robot, mechanically trudging through life, doing the best I can, like you. But I am not really doing the best I can, am I?
“Did you taste your coffee, feel the air on your skin, notice the smile of a stranger…”
I heard the noise again today as I was flitting around cleaning, my head somewhere else, always somewhere else. Hours had gone by and I had crossed many things off my list… though, hours had gone by. What had I seen, felt, tasted, smelled, or noticed in that time? I’m not sure. To be truthful, I don’t know how I got here… right here… to this spot in time in my life. Minutes, hours, weeks, and years gone by. Sure, I can tell you major events in my life, my super-happy days, and my terrible days of agony. But there is so much I cannot tell you because I really wasn’t there. I didn’t notice. Did you notice?
“Hours had gone by…”
The tap isn’t loud and I hear it only ever so often. Maybe it was there all the time when my mind was busy, when my thoughts were yelling in my head, worries plaguing my focus, tasks absorbing my mental capacities. What did you hear today?
Today, though, I have heard the tap a lot. Today is different. This day, I have realized that my mind is too loud, too busy, too absent, and too filled. Today, I want my mind to be quiet. Each day, I want… no, need my mind to slow down time, to connect to the outside, to absorb my surroundings and to be in the moment.
“What did you hear today?”
Brown, Creswell, and Ryan (2015) explain that when we quiet our minds to take in the ever present sensory stimuli around us, we are open to learn, comprehend and evaluate our environment. We can cognitively appreciate and encode information presented to us by our senses and effectively add the new and valid perceptions to our short and long-term memory. When our mind is busy, we are unable to effectively absorb and retain information from our surroundings nor appreciate positive stimuli that enrich our lives.
We can learn, decide, believe, and grow.
A busy mind is often jam-packed with both positive and negative thoughts. The negative ones however, are doing more damage than we realize as they rattle around in there often without our awareness. As these destructive feelings and worries take up space unbeknownst to us, they cause a rush of chemicals to trigger our muscles to tighten and spasm, our blood pressure to rise, our digestive system to slow and a state of hypervigilance to sudden stimuli that break through our raging mental processes. We can experience nausea, pain, headaches, and other symptoms without ever being aware of what thoughts initiated the course (Baer 2015).
“…more damage than we realize…”
It was time for me to investigate the tap on my window. So, I did. The tap unremarkably was the outside, stick-on thermometer, blowing around in the wind. Not earth-shattering or mind-blowing. Just a mundane noise. But was absolutely amazing was what I saw when I looked past the relentless yard work needing to be done, and the garage that begged to be sorted. I saw the unbelievable color scheme on the ground from millions of fallen leaves and an ever so tiny nest in the nearest tree. I saw. Then I heard the song of a Magpie alerting its comrades and the traffic so close by. I heard. I felt the softness of my sweater and tension in my neck and shoulders from the weight of the world. I felt. I could still savor the left-over essence from my last coffee on my tongue. I tasted. The scent of blueberry-orange from my warmer lingered ever so lightly from yesterday’s use. I smelled. I knew that I was in the moment. How utterly peaceful. Serene. Wonderful.
Immediately, intrusive thoughts came barging in. My children! Do my children have moments like these? Have I failed them by not showing them how? Could they learn? Would they want to learn? Stop! The questions threatened to destroy my peace with guilt, urgency, and fear. I chose to not allow it. I chose to just breathe, allow my questions to dance around uncommittedly. My plan formed on its own. I would talk to my children and share my story. I would role-model my new state of being of which I was learning to incorporate into my every day and I would support them in enjoying the immense benefits of a calm and observant mind. Maybe we can explore “Mindfulness Activities for Children And Teens: 25 Fun Exercises For Kids (2017)” together and the games we play will help them smile more, learn more, grow more and will create a sense of peace when looking at future goals, challenges and dreams.
Today I will still my mind. Tomorrow I will notice the delightful scent and taste of my coffee, relax in the early morning light before my children wake, feel the softness of my dog’s fur, observe what my children are wearing and the sparkle in their eyes as they tell me their stories.
I will hear them, see them, feel my love for them and know that I am truly blessed and at peace. I will hear the tap on my window and investigate the noise just to see the beauty in my own yard. I will start there. The rest will come.
Baer, R. (2015) Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician’s Guide to Evidence Base and Applications. Academic Press.
Brown, K.W., Creswell, J.D., Ryan, R.M. (2015). Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Guilford Publications.
Share your story of living in the moment in your life and/or with your children.
How did this post make you feel?
Don’t forget to check out my young adult/adult/fantasy novel, “When I Died” and join Adrianna, Jonathan and Dierdre through death, fated love, heart-wrenching loss, unlikely friendships, unimaginable evil, and self-reflection that all can relate to. When I Died is also available on Amazon, Chapters, Kobo and signed copies can be purchased directly through me 🙂