Too often my answer is “no” to each of the questions I posed in my previous post. My excuse? Time, or the lack thereof.
It is practically impossible to notice anything when I am rushing around at work or with my ‘to-do’ list, except the things that block me from accomplishing my tasks. Those things are quite noticeable—the red light, the slowest line, the slowest internet connection, lost keys, no laundry detergent…and when I’m noticing those things, I’m not really in a contemplative space of wondering, but more in a (not so spiritual) mode of, “Seriously?!?”
But is it truly a lack of time? All it really takes to notice something is a breath, a second, a pause.
So, if it’s not time, what is it? The real problem? Noticing requires me to step out of my robot-like trance and to corral the thoughts that are charging through my head, towing me behind like a rider with a foot caught in the stirrup. Noticing requires me to press pause on the constant chatter inside my head and to be present, to be aware of what’s actually happening both in and around me in that moment. (Depending on the situation, I sometimes think I may prefer to be dragged behind a horse than be present, but that’s another post!)
I know. Easier said than done. Step out of the robot-like trance? Corral the thoughts? Press pause? I don’t know if you’ve ever tried, but it’s rather difficult to release your foot from the stirrup when you’re being dragged, either by your own thoughts or an actual horse.
So, I’ve decided to start small. Simple. Three breaths. Throughout the day, I’m trying to take three deliberate, slow, deep breaths, with a pause between each one, and just look around. It’s amazing what you can notice and wonder about in three breaths--the picture on the wall I’ve walked by a hundred times, the artist who painted it, the tension sitting in my chest, how fear and trust occupy seats of an internal seesaw when I watch the news, the life of the person inside the beat up car in front of me, the taste, temperature, and texture of the food I’m eating, that every person (no matter where they're from) desires to be loved unconditionally, that one star shining brighter than all the rest, that God made stars…
Will you try? I mean you’re breathing anyway, right? Just slow down on three of them periodically and look around. Three breaths while you’re waiting for your browser to open, while you’re standing in line, while you’re waiting for your meeting to start, while you’re pumping gas…what will you notice and wonder about?
By the way, don’t be surprised if you notice a glimpse of the mystery of God moving in your peripheral vision. Or, maybe you’ll find it staring you right in the face.
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Nicole Mills is an oncology nurse, cancer survivor, nerd, and contemplative. She has a secret desire to be a nun or a double-dutch jump rope champion. Not being Catholic or able to jump 2 ropes poses significant hurdles, but she remains hopeful.