Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

When was the last time you lifted your eyes and watched the clouds drift lazily across the sky? Shadows, darkness and wisps of wonder traverse the skyline, slowly, heavily, lightly, fleeting mists.

When was the last time you looked up, and allowed the gentle pace of the clouds to calm your breathing, and softly nudge your mind to rest?

Have you ever watched the clouds move? Have you ever let them invite you in to a lazy, carefree space within yourself?

I watch the clouds move, and my heart grows calm. The noise of the world seems to dissipate, and all there is is what is in front of me, the moment that I am resting within, swaddled by these wispy, whimsical, gently floating dreams. I don’t see where they go when they move past the corner of my window….where do dreams go as they drift along?

In this vast universe there is a little window of time, of opportunity, of life, your life, and mine….will you slow your heart and mind for a moment to hear it, to experience and to live it, to allow it to deepen the wonder within you?

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

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Reflections of Autumn

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There’s a sensation in the air that the approach of autumn may not be so far away. Sometimes our heart can sense the changing of the seasons before we apprehend with our senses that any change has yet come. My heart tells me that autumn is a time for lingering, for slowing down, but not yet stopping, for taking the time to live, to be, and to reflect. I find autumn to be a beautiful time of the year (when it is not raining, that is). I sometimes feel that the natural world can have a deep impact upon our inner lives, and the pace of change within ourselves. As I look out of my window and type, the fir trees still stand steady, inked with a deep rich forest green. Other smaller, leafier trees, whose names I don’t know but wish I did, have begun the resplendent transformation as bright yellow gold leaves intermingle with the fading greens. A change is in the air. You can feel it. Not yet winter, but no longer spring or summer, it is time to ‘stock up’ for the colder days ahead, and time also to ‘take stock’ of the days we have lived.

Autumn is a gift. It is a gift that life gives us to slow down and apprehend that life is happening, right now, and it is our duty to pursue wisdom and to live life well. For, as we see life happening, rich, fascinating, unfurling from green to gold to auburn and brown, we are reminded not only that we are alive, but that life also changes, it also fades and this season’s tapestry will in time give way to the next.

In thinking of the seasons of our lives as a tapestry, it helps to remind us that each stitch in time, is part of a far greater picture, and yet is not insignificant – for each little stitch is so important in making the picture, so that things don’t unravel, and so each has its own important place.

It is an important reminder to ourselves, as moving into the latter stages of a year can at times bring feelings of ‘underwhelm’, anxiety, the sense that we have not achieved ‘enough’ or become who we were hoping to be, or done what we wanted, planned or dreamed of doing. Yet Autumn, beautiful and tender Autumn, gives us the permission to slow down, to breathe, to take time over each stitch and to remember that the smallest of details is exceptionally important even in this grand picture, this tapestry of life that is being woven.

You and I may only be a little, tiny piece of a far greater scene – a universe beyond us, time and space that we know nothing about, mysteries that our lives may never apprehend. We someday will be someone else’s ‘history’, we are someone from the past’s ‘future’, and we are here and we are now, each making a stitch in time. We are part of something far greater, and yet we are important – nature reveals this to us – and our Creator through nature speaks volumes. We are both challenged and permitted to take up our own paintbrush as it were, our own pen to write, to create, we are drawn into focusing on the beauty around us, and yes, the fading beauty, but reminded that while we think on these things, we have a part to play, a keystroke to type, a brush to caress a page, a song to sing, a letter to write, a dance to be danced and a life to live. There is beauty in Autumn, and Autumn reminds us that there is beauty with each change, beauty in the smallest of things. So take today as your gift, and be the beautiful part of this grand design that you were born and called to be. x

 

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Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

Quality of Life…everyday….

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What do those three words make you think of? ‘Quality of life’. (I mean in a general, everyday sense. I understand that there are many people who are or have friends or family members who are living through terminal illness, severe health challenges, bereavements and other major life challenges, which require sensitivity and compassion and an entirety of focus, therefore this post is aimed more generally, while my heart goes out to those who are struggling with the daily realities of such life circumstances).

I guess the phrase means different things to different people, but individually I think you ‘just know’ whether you are experiencing it or whether something is amiss. As explored in previous posts, we often don’t stop and realise what we really need to change until after we ‘burn out’ or struggle to survive our hectic and stressful days. 

As someone who has had a long battle with complex post traumatic stress (notice, I leave out the word ‘disorder’, for we are overcomers and survivors of the brain’s natural coping reactions to severely stressful life experiences that were put upon us), severe clinical depression, resulting in for a few years chronic pain, and also generalised anxiety disorder, therefore quality of life is something I have had to think about a lot. 

I am pleased so say that by the grace of God, and with a lot of hard work taking those small and seemingly insurmountable steps every day for years and years, I feel like I am stronger and in a better place. 

So, ‘quality of life’ in an everyday sense….what does it mean? You know better what it is when you don’t have it. And what do you think about? Is it having time to yourself to rest and reflect? Experiencing exhilarating challenges and exploring new places? Having a peaceful family life, or finding contentment in your situation whether you have people around you or are ‘alone’? Is it being able to “enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”? To notice the simple things each and everyday?

It is a challenge that each of us have to take up to consider this question for ourselves, and then to give ourselves the permission to set about doing something about it for our own sakes and for those around us. I have taken the day off work today. I was getting to the stage of feeling like I wasn’t ‘coping’ so well, and that’s not the way I want to live. And I think with all I have been through, and all that you have been through in your life, it is a question that we need to *regularly* ask ourselves: am I living, experiencing a real quality of life, even in the simple things everyday, and if not, what am I going to do to make the changes I need to make? 

For me some of these changes have taken years to accomplish having had the mountains of post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression to overcome. However simple they may seem, these changes are small victories in my life. And as each gain is made, the quality of life adds up over the years, as does our personal resilience to adversity, just as conversely each detriment adds up, each bad habit, each negative element that we allow to continue in our lives unchallenged. 

Some of these changes for me include working on a better sleep routine, and eating more healthily, and looking after my body and mind. Having a time of morning devotions and prayer and seeking God, giving thanks and praying for myself and others, committing my day to Him and being gentle with myself when I don’t manage this and end up rushing. Taking time to slow down and notice the beauty in the everyday, ‘mundane’ things of life and appreciating what I have got. Taking time to create a peaceful living and working environment even if there are challenges in doing this, small changes can make a difference. Taking breaks, being mindful of my breathing, setting goals and plans, and taking the time to do more of what I enjoy, whether it is reading a book while waiting for the train, colouring during my lunch breaks at work, listening to music, giving myself more time so that I am not constantly rushing from place to place, and taking a day off when I need to if I can. 

I am a great believer that the little things in life really do add up over time. What you are investing in today will impact your future and those of the people in your life in some way or another. Seeds of legacy. So take time to make time for yourself, small or big changes that will help you everyday to live more in alignment with what really matters, taking consideration of the foundation that you are building your life upon, so that you are living and not merely existing. Small steps, after all, lead to changed lives as the years roll by. God bless. x

 

 

Slow down, just breathe, & live a little deeper this year… Part 1

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It’s January 7th 2018, and I don’t know for how long it is reasonable to talk about the ‘New Year’. One thing I do know however, is that it is always a good time to reflect upon our lives, and to consider whether there are ways we can do things differently, and to look for new opportunities and new beginnings. 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to find that as I get older the years seem to hurtle by (at least they did until more recently) in a way in which they didn’t when I was very young. Summers seemed to last forever, and every experience had  a certain weight to it. I can remember squinting against the sun, and collecting molten droplets on my eye lashes. I remember sitting on the floor in the gym hall in primary school where we also had to wait in line for lunch, and where we had school assemblies, and noticing the way in which shafts of sunlight streaming through the high up windows caught falling dust particles that wouldn’t otherwise be seen. Sometimes experiences and boredom seemed to drag on, such as on rainy days when my parents were sleeping and I wanted to play, or sitting a test or waiting for that friend to come out to play. And yet, even in these times, I can remember being able to find simple, imaginative solutions to the problem of boredom by becoming wholly engrossed in my own playful reveries. Sometimes on days spent outside, and especially with friends, the possibilities of adventure seemed endless. And on rainy days inside playing by myself, I distinctly and vividly remember the worlds and adventures that I created all by myself and became engrossed in. Perhaps you can relate to these feelings from your own earlier experiences. Don’t get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t always a happy time, and sometimes not by a long shot, but still there were times when I was present, absorbed in the moment of play or adventure, and oblivious to the passing of time. 

Perhaps you think, that’s all well and good, but as adults we can’t spend our time staring off into the distance when there are so many responsibilities and so much to do, and with every passing moment, and accumulating task, so little time. To which I’d like to remind you of those two little words that mean so much to so many of us, with a weight and force to stop us in our tracks: “Burn Out”. 

Ironically enough, I have returned to my blog and am commencing this paragraph after stepping away to check on the food in my oven, when my leg brushed against the front of the open oven door causing me to gasp at the burning sensation! If ever there was an appropriate and timely lesson in mindfulness and avoiding burn out, that was it! Don’t worry, I’m ok 🙂 ….. 

Taking this to be a natural pause in ‘Life as it happens to be’, I’ll leave you momently to consider your own thoughts as I concentrate on monotasking and enjoying my dinner, so that I can focus all of my thoughts on part two of this post, to be continued later…. x

 

Daily Prompt: ‘Distant’

Daily Prompt – Distant

You’ve been here before. Looking out to the horizon, the wide expanse of sea and sky reaches forth to meet you, where right now you feel the sand and grit between your toes, as gentle waves lap around your feet. A gull wails in the far, far distance, and other seabirds respond with their own distinct cacophony of cackles.

You spy a razor shell covered with sand. You desire to reach down to smooth off the sand from between its intricate ridges. But the presence of seaweed draws out your hesitance, and you simply stare. You are lost in the reverie you find in the rock pools around you. A crab scuttles into view, distorting the patterns of your peaceful daydream. You lift a foot, shaking off the sand, and begin to walk away.

People come and go all around you, and yet this is your beach. You hold fast to your solitude even in this multitude. You look back to see your trail of footprints, and forwards at the untouched sand. Around you there is the vibrancy of life. Children run and play, weaving their way in and out of the patterns on the sand, splashing in the water and squealing with delight. Sandcastles are built and gleefully demolished. A red and yellow kite catches the wind, falters and then soars high into the bright blue sky as a gust triumphantly lifts it. Somewhere in the distance you can hear the clip clop of horses hooves. People walking dogs come and go, and life goes on and on in this one vibrant unfolding shared story on this beach, where everything is now.

You pull the kite string of your mind to try to both tether yourself and to fly free as you catch a fresh breeze. But this tension within you constantly flutters. Why does it seem that everything you long for is always in the distance, beyond a horizon that you can never quite arrive at?

Perhaps it is because you yourself are distant. Never fully allowing yourself to be here and now, present in the life you are living, the life that other people’s dreams are made of…..?  (c).P1110011.JPG