Today an opportunity presented itself. I took advantage of lovely sounds in my dentist’s office, while waiting for the biannual scrub. Truly lovely sounds. A flatscreen monitor placed in the corner of the waiting area displayed waves lapping on the shore of Hawaiian Islands. Instead of hearing broadcast news in a healthcare provider’s office, I listened to ocean waves at what seemed like nature’s perfect cadence. As I sat on the comfortable couch, with my back supported and feet flat on the floor, I began by watching the waves on the beach. Then, closed my eyes and simply drank in the auditory landscape. I knew there was a gentleman sitting nearby reading a magazine, and I could occasionally hear the staff quietly talking. I thought about looking at my smartphone and checking e-mail, and although that would’ve been perfectly OK, now I have the gift of a beautiful image that keeps bubbling up in my awareness today.
In her book, The Willpower Instinct, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal states “Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness.”
Where are opportunities, even for 1-2 minutes during your day, where you can listen, or “watch” your breath, or observe the world without striving to accomplish anything, except for the gift of self-care?
We start in Mountain pose. Some are standing on beach towels, others on yoga mats, a few with feet on the grass. I stand on my mat, with eyes open at first, relishing the lush green, soaking in the misty, fully humid morning. Then I close my eyes, hearing bird songs, lawnmowers, and children’s voices at play. My muscles feel relaxed and warm, and I am so grateful to be alive, outside, in this moment. The hour continues, with about sixteen sweaty practitioners quietly flowing through poses, with what feels like just enough instruction from our teacher. As we begin sitting postures, a cooler breeze ever so gently floats by. We end, and several offer thanks for this out of the ordinary experience. As we walk back into the building, a classmate comments on the outdoor component of class, with “You feel so connected”.
When do you experience, by happenstance, or on purpose, a sense that grabs you, in a good way? What amazes me is how our bodies are built to use our five senses, yet how often do we actively engage them to more fully learn, enjoy, change, then sustain change? We can choose to bring in one, two or more senses to a new habit, practice, or behavior, or one that’s established in our lives. Either way, we will remember the experience, and more likely to repeat it, especially if it’s pleasurable. The best classroom teachers know this. Our brains are both partitioned and bridged to adapt, and be aware. All we need to do is wake up and notice….one moment at a time, one sense at a time.
Click on the link below for a 30 second video that recreates what I heard this morning.