Take one minute out of clock time. Focus your attention on the poppy. Let it bring you to your senses. Let the colour fill your vision in open awareness. See the movement of the petals in the wind. Let the sounds come to you and the silence of the flower.
See the concrete encroaching, is that like your life? Feel the red blood singing in your veins, and the scarlet bleed of pain. Notice the first thought and if your mind wanders into a negative ruminating story, bring it back to the flower.
Is your breath, slowing, deepening in the moment? Did you hear the birds?
Even one minute out of clock time can re-orientate you, allow you to accept things as they are at the moment…let them go.
Come back to the task in hand. Perhaps with a goal for later. To go for a noticing walk…listen to some music…sing along…
Take three minutes out of clock time. Perhaps you are stuck indoors behind a desk. This is a three minute video of the sea, waves gently lapping at the beach.
Come to your senses. Let the waves and the sounds come to you. Notice your breathing, is it rhythmic like the waves? Is it fast and shallow or slow and deep like the waves?
Let the colours come to you. Notice when the clouds come over, or when the sun comes breaking through. Can you hear quieter sounds in the background.
If your mind wanders, notice what it wanders too and bring it back to the waves.
Feel the sand beneath your feet and the coolness of the water. Salt drying on your face and the cool wind and warm sun…
Notice any longings to walk on the beach barefoot, to paddle in the sea. To gaze out at the horizon in open awareness, breathing in freedom. Is there a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of your senses…
Did you notice the light flooding in at the end? May it be a picture of wellbeing flooding into you.
Let go of whatever is troubling you. Come back to the task in hand refreshed. As the paddle boarder appears at the end, so it is time for you to journey on to your next task.
Below is a link to the mindfulness retreat I am leading for the Association for Promoting Retreats 29-31 October at Old Alresford Place
Retreat Association, 22-25 June 2015
Guest speakers and contributors include Dr Rowan Williams, Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, Revd Graham Sparkes and Margaret Rizza. I will be leading two workshops on mindfulness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn the American Doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness in Western medicine talks about an ‘orthogonal rotation in consciousness’ when we practice mindfulness. There is a shift in perspective.
It can be described in different ways. I see it as a shift from thinking to awareness, from being a victim of our thoughts and feelings, to an intimate witness of them. Others have talked about no longer being on a train of thought, but looking at the train of thought from a hillside.
Now in a very important and technical phrase Mark Williams defines what attentional training (mindfulness meditations or mindful awareness practices) is doing, ‘Attentional training in mindfulness programs cultivate the ability to shift modes as an essential first step to being able to hold all experience (sensory and conceptual) in a wider awareness that is itself neither merely sensory nor conceptual.’
This is a shift from doing to being, from the narrative self (conceptual mode) to the experiential self (sensory-perceptual mode), followed by an ability to hold both in an open wider awareness. Instead of being held by the experience you are holding the experience.
In this attached video I have a little visual illustration of this rotation. It is a video of two hour-glasses, egg-timers, whatever you want to call them. In the traditional one on the left the sand rushes down through the narrow gap until it is all gone.
That is a picture of our self following our thoughts, which is what we normally do, down into a, narrow, negative, automatic reactive place – where we are a victim of our thoughts.
The one on the right shows the red particles rising upwards, it is a clever alternative. It can also be seen as an image of what happens when we have this rotation in consciousness. When we shift to awareness, it is as if the thoughts rise into that awareness enabling us to observe them, and in that intimate observation we can chose a skilled response. We are no longer in our self, rushing down with our thoughts into that negative, automatic place of reaction. We are holding the experience rather than being held by the experience.
I’d be interested to hear if you find the visual illustration of this shift in perspective helpful?