This morning I watched the snow fall. Big fabulous flakes, the kind that stick to your eyelashes. I felt the gravitational pull of business and busyness—screens, to-do lists, work, news, catching up on everything. I felt my heart begin to beat faster in time with the story of all the things I should be doing. I focused on the snow. I watched the flakes swirl, dancing in mid-air. I noticed the warmth of the mug wrapping around my fingers. I watched my neighbor's dog gleefully bound down the middle of the street. I noticed the cushions of the couch supporting my body. I noticed the urge to move, to act, to get going. I took deep breaths and continued to give myself permission to sit, to stay, to notice.
When I was little, one of my favorite books was called I Like to Be Little by Charlotte Zolotow, with illustrations by Erik Blegvad. In it, a mother asks her young daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, to which the daughter replies, "I just want to stay little right now." The mother goes on to ask her daughter why she likes to be little and the daughter lists all of her reasons, detailing all the things little kids do that grown-ups don't.
"I can sit and do nothing," said the little girl. "Grown-ups never sit and do nothing."
"They're too busy," said her mother.
"I like to sit and do nothing," said the little girl. "I like to be little."
As we grow up, we buy into the myth of being busy, that somehow we will receive an award for filling each moment with tasks. And we take pride in our hectic lives, our packed schedules like a badge of honor. We often play the martyr, sacrificing ourselves to doing all the things, bemoaning our busy lives to anyone who will listen. Any gap in time filled with our phones, scrolling social media sites, perpetually looking down when there is an opportunity to look up, to look out, to look in. Every time we scratch something off the list, the brief moment of relief is followed by adding another item, and another, and another, and another. With our focus so far in the future, we stop paying attention to right now.
Mindfulness is the state of being aware and conscious of the present moment. There are no prerequisites. You don't need a cushion, a mat, or an app. All you need to do is notice where you are and what you are doing. Every human being has the capacity to be mindful. Mindfulness also asks us to be curious and compassionate: to notice without being overly reactive, judgmental, or overwhelmed.
I invite you to pause in this moment.
I invite you to notice your response to this invitation.
I invite you to be curious about any resistance in the mind or body.
I invite you to notice where you are in space using all of the senses available to you: what can you see, hear, smell, taste, feel?
I invite you to notice where you feel your breath move in your body.
I invite you to notice any sensations in the body without labeling them as good or bad.
I invite you to notice any feelings or emotions without judgment, allowing them to flow.
I invite you to notice the thoughts in the mind.
I invite you to notice that you are able to notice your thoughts.
I invite you to continue to notice.
I invite you to thank yourself for pausing to notice.
I hope this mindful moment allows you to reconnect to the present and perhaps to the childlike wonder at being alive.
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