Not sure about you, but I find myself bursting with energy and optimism with the arrival of Spring. It’s like my senses have been hibernating for the winter as I walk outside and am struck by the warm sunshine, birds chirping, the flowers and grass slowly reappearing, my senses suddenly on high alert.
Daily throughout the year, weather permitting, I pack up my son in the stroller and head out on the same rural walking route. Some days I find myself lost in thought, on automatic pilot, barely aware of time passing. Yes, we’ve gotten our daily dose of fresh air, exercise and Vitamin D, but, sadly, I have missed an opportunity to savor Mother Nature’s abundance.
Today, however, I deliberately focused my attention on the emergent hints of Spring all around. My son was happy to oblige. Tuning into our sense of hearing, this is just a smattering of what we observed: A robin’s song, a rooster’s caw, a woodpecker’s thrumming, a dog’s bark, a stream’s gurgling, and an airplane’s droning overhead. It was delightful and transformed what might have been an ordinary hike into a feast for our senses.
Quite effortless after a long, harsh winter, this concentrated attentiveness is Mindfulness in action and feels much like seeing the world with a fresh perspective. Maintaining this keen awareness becomes increasingly challenging as we grow older and busier and as the warmer weeks wear on. We take for granted the verdant landscape and sunshine as our bodies and minds acclimate. Ho hum, yawn, and we shift nearly imperceptibly back into automatic pilot mode.
We do, in fact, have a choice whether to continue to live on autopilot or stop and literally smell the roses. With simple Mindfulness practices we can encourage this sense of awareness regardless of the season. By focusing solely on one of the senses we bring our full attention to the moment and are more likely to savor it. By pausing and observing throughout the day, we train our minds to be more aware and present which, in turn, keeps us from slipping back into autopilot mode.
Try it out: Choose one of your senses and notice what you observe. As this daily Mindfulness practice becomes a habit you may be surprised at how much more of your life you are really living, fully aware, enjoying your surroundings with a renewed appreciation and sense of awe.