It’s the end of April and it finally feels like spring in Connecticut.
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood why people around here are so big on spring. To me it’s always seemed grey, wet, and muddy.
It’s different this year though.
Maybe it’s because of the long/late winter, or the fact that I’ve been holed up in my office too much – but this week, things seem a bit brighter, a bit greener, a bit fresher.
The deep, red buds of the maple trees, the haze of chartreuse across the barberry bushes, the spring peepers, the bold, warm sun on my face…it all feels new and bursting with promise.
OK, Spring, I get it – you’re not so bad after all.
Wouldn’t it be cool if everything else in life felt like that?
Believe it or not, it can. But first, you’ve got to get around your wiring.
Our survival driven brains are wired to notice things that are new or unfamiliar – like movement in the dark corner of a seemingly deserted parking lot, or smoke coming from a place it shouldn’t. It’s just a bonus that lovely things like birds chirping on spring mornings draw that same attention because of their relative newness.
Conversely, our brains tend to gloss over the things that we see, hear, and feel every day as expected, safe, and therefore not worthy of the energetic expense of our attention.
The more you practice being in the present moment, the more you’ll be able to direct your attention to what you choose rather than being at the mercy of that old, default wiring.
Use mindfulness to experience your world as fresh and new.
When arriving at home, stop at the door and take a few centering breaths. Pretend you’re walking into a museum. Walk through your house with curiosity. Notice everything around you without judgement. Allow your mind to focus on each thing you look at as if seeing it for the very first time.
Choose something that you consume daily – tea, coffee, an apple… and try to experience it as if you’d never imagined such a thing existed. Be curious. Draw your attention to every element of it. What it looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like, and finally what it tastes like. Take your time and savor the experience.
This one’s my favorite. Pick a person you see every day – a friend, your spouse, your child – and notice them as if they were someone you’ve never encountered. Leave all expectation and judgement behind. Notice the ways they are the same as you. Notice the qualities that make them unique. Notice the way they make you feel.
Try it with anything you may no longer “see” – the supermarket, the coffee shop, the shower.