Have you ever been driving down the freeway, the music is on and your brain is in high gear thinking about how your car needs to go to the shop, you are out of milk, you just remembered a project due at work, and you have to get something to the post office but it is never open when you can get there. When your brain finally resurfaces, you look ahead at the road and realize you can’t recollect the last 10 miles you have driven.
It is hard to let go of the ever present chatter in our brain. So this week’s 1st practice is just noticing. Noticing everything, the smell of the air, the sound of the birds, the beauty of the trees, the taste of an apple. Noticing the “moments in-between.”
A Note about Practice, practice, practice: We know we need to practice tennis, the violin and other more technical-like things to improve. And for some reason, our culture doesn’t acknowledge the idea of practicing more subtle things such as being empathetic, being in the present moment, seeing something through someone else’s eyes. So, the things I will be giving you are just that, practices. Things we can intentionally, remember to do on a daily basis.
I like to put a post-it note on the bathroom mirror to remind myself of what my daily practice is that day.
We are Beginners: It is helpful to remember in everything we do that is new, we are beginners. In some ways, we are probably always “beginners” because even when we become more practiced, or even expert at something, we often still seek to improve and learn a new skill. Thus, still a beginner!
“Phenomenon” versus “Story”: As you approach each of the week’s , a repeated concept I will visit with you is that of continually being aware of when you slip into creating a “story” about something versus just noticing phenomena. Phenomena are things that are relatively objective (within a culture anyway) that we might all agree on: the sky is blue, the floor is hard, the smell was fragrant. Saying the smell was “good” or my boss was “angry” for example, is a “story” word. Instead, of “angry” the phenomena might be: their eyebrows knit together and they suddenly cross they crossed their arms.
So it is great practice to just start noting actual phenomena with just a thought of “oh, how interesting” with no judgment about it and side step the story-making. Much of our upset in life comes from a story we create about why something is the way it is when we actually have no evidence
The Practice: For 10 minutes every day go out into nature and see, hear, feel, and smell everything (and during the day too, including savoring taste). Every day. And then, write what you noticed, and importantly, how you felt in your body and mind.
At the end of the Week, pick one experience to share if you are comfortable doing so. I hope you will because this is a most awesome part of this practice.