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That’s What Life Is; It’s Just a Bunch of Moments…Right!

A verge planted with wild flowers

And sometimes those moments just come together in the most unexpected of ways.

Let me share a recent experience that illustrates how mindfulness can reveal the extraordinary in seemingly ordinary situations.

One morning this week I decided to take a small detour on the way home after the school run.

I returned to a spot that I’d discovered the previous day when I had allowerd myself to slow right down, pause, and take a moment.

It had allowed me to to see a very familiar place through a different lens.

Discovering Beauty in the Everyday

This place is somewhere I regularly frequent; it is a conveniently located supermarket, a visit to which isn’t too inconvenient to incorporate into the school run.

A verge planted with wildflowers

Despite having been there multiple times in recent weeks, yesterday was the first day that I saw a beautiful wildflower verge planted at the side of the road in front of the supermarket’s car park….and that triggered enough ‘brain tingles’ that I wanted to experience that moment again the following morning.

So how come I saw the beauty that day and I hadn’t noticed it before?

The flowers clearly hadn’t just been planted overnight…as was confirmed by a lady passing by who spotted me admiring them, and told me that I’d missed the best of it as they were starting to fade now, having been much more vibrant in the preceding weeks.

The Power of Being Mindfully Present

So what was different about that particular day?

I had given myself permission to slow down and take a moment.

I had allowed myself to be wholly in that moment.

A verge planted with wildflowers

I had set the intention of being mindful, even though it was a seemingly banal task of going to the supermarket.

By pulling myself out of my head and into the present moment, I was able to see something that had been hiding from me in plain sight all this time – a stunning and vibrant patch of nature, bursting with colour and a hive of activity of insect life.

Mindfulness in Everyday Tasks

Mindfulness is often conflated with meditation, and I talk about that here, but we can do anything mindfully if we set ourselves the intention.

For example, we can go for a walk mindfully by paying attention to every step that we are taking, being aware of the feeling of our feet touching the ground, listening to the sounds around us, and looking carefully at the environment around us.

We can eat mindfully by being intentional about the food we are putting in our mouths, not mindlessly shovelling it in as we do something else like scrolling on our phones, all the while focusing on the flavours, textures, and aromas of our meal.

And whilst we're doing this, reflecting on what feelings are coming up for us and what stories our minds are telling us about that moment in time.

So why had I set myself the intention in the first place of taking a mindful moment whilst doing some grocery shopping.

Incorporating Mindfulness into Daily Life

I am an Ambassador for the Public Health Collaboration and, through this, I have become involved in the Liberate Programme – an educational course that supports people who feel that they are addicted to ultra-processed foods (UPF).

Peer support is an essential element of the success of the programme, and participants are encouraged to share with other members of their group, on a daily basis, their points of gratitude, their affirmations, and their intentions.

Pained pebbles with the message "It's not happiness that brings us Gratitude. It's gratitude that brings us happiness"

I am very familiar with the power of gratitude practice, and many clients I have worked with have found it compliments the CBT approach very well, but this is the first time in my personal practice that I have combined gratitude, with affirmations and intentions.

A Mindful Moment of Self-Care

A verge planted with wildflowers

So I returned to the spot with the intention of allowing myself another opportunity for practising mindfulness, whilst also connecting with nature (which is also hugely beneficial for mental health) – a small moment of self-care.

I took some photos of the flowers and noticed that from the perspective of the camera, I could have been standing in a wildflower meadow…and perhaps for a moment it felt like that too as I ‘drank in’ the beauty of the colours and the sound of the bees who were also enjoying themselves – it was as if the volume of modern life, the hustle and bustle around me, was turned down…just for a moment.

The Impact of Perspective

A wide angle view of a wildflower verge to illustrate perspective taking

I was able to do some ‘in the moment’ reflection and observed what a difference the perspective we take can make to us, and I took the opportunity of practising a technique that I sometimes use with clients - zooming in and out of different perspectives.

One second I was standing peacefully in a wildflower meadow, the next I was in the thick of it on the side of a busy road, then back and forth between the two.

A close up view of a wildflower verge to illustrate perspective taking.

Oscillating between two perspectives is a powerful example of how our focus can drastically alter our experience of the same moment.

A Serendipitous Connection

Soon enough it was time to get back into the swing of the day, and as I turned on the radio in the car for the drive home I heard a voice say:

“You go through your life and you have all these moments where you go

‘oh my god someday I’m going to be looking back on this, remembering it’ and that’s what life is, it’s just a bunch of moments…right!!”

It turned out that I had tuned in just as Sheryl Crow was being interviewed about her latest album, and so much of what she was saying resonated very well with me in that instant – really reinforcing the idea that even the smallest of moments can be meaningful if we allow ourselves to fully experience them.

A hand reaching out towards a blurred background, to represent a mindful moment

Finding Meaning in Small Moments

I will surely remember this experience of discovering the wildflower verge, and it demonstrates that these ‘moments’ in life don’t have to be ‘major events’; even the smallest of things can be meaningful and stay with us, as long as we are present in that moment to actually recognise it is happening and allow ourselves to truly, properly, experience it.

A Gift to Oneself

When Sheryl was speaking about how she came to write her latest album, she explained that, as for many people, she came out of the Covid epidemic feeling very introspective and wondering:

“What does this all mean”.

Her son had learned to drive, so she was no longer doing the school run.

Instead, she took time to take her guitar and a notepad out onto her back porch to just try to, as she put it, “sort it out”.

She recognised that:

“it was just the most glorious gift that I gave myself”.

A sign on a pole saying "Now is a Gift", to illustrate being mindfully present

I reflected on what perfect timing it was to hear her say that…it enabled me to see that I had just gifted myself something that was not only quite glorious but also very precious, by allowing myself the time to revisit the wildflower verge.

A seemingly ordinary activity, on a seemingly ordinary day, approached mindfully and with intention, has yielded a special moment…how many other special moments could we be missing because we are trundling through life on automatic pilot?

Avoiding the Automatic Pilot

It certainly makes me wonder!

It wasn’t a particularly long interview but I was struck by how many points came up in the conversation that pulled me into a pause because they resonated so well with me.

She spoke of collaborating with Peter Gabriel on a cover of his song – Digging in the Dirt – and she commented that:

Dirty hands scooping up soil

“Digging in the dirt is exactly what you do; you dig through all the muck and you make sense of it”.

I think that sometimes we can get so bogged down in digging through the muck of life that we do miss those opportunities for special moments that are right before us.

We can end up operating on automatic pilot, and that brings me to another thing she talked about – she said that she doesn’t generally listen to her own music but that she does listen to this new record because it gives her a sense that:

“I am still alive”.

Living Mindfully

Scrabble tiles spelling out the message "Be Here Now" to illustrate being mindfully present

That made me wonder, when we act mindfully with intention, being really present in the moment, are we more alive than when we are on automatic pilot, which is perhaps just merely a state of existing?

As Sheryl says, life is indeed a collection of moments, some are fleeting but all the same they can still be profound despite being brief.

These moments have the potential to shape our experiences and enrich our lives, if we can be mindful enough to see them…be present enough to notice, and be aware of the beauty in even the apparently most mundane of situations.

Embracing Everyday Wonders

There’s a saying:

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”

How often do we rush through our days on autopilot, worrying about what is coming next, all the while little moments of wonder slip by unnoticed?

What do you think?

Creating Your Moments

Why not have a go at setting yourself some daily intentions, carrying them out mindfully, and then expressing gratitude for what happens…you never know, you might be gifting yourself something glorious.

What will your moments be today?

A verge planted with wildflowers in full bloom

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