Noticing Simple Pleasures
Mindfulness practice encourages us to pay attention to present moment experience -- to notice and observe what is occurring in the here and now. This is actually quite natural for us to do, although it may not always seem that way. As Sayadaw U Tejaniya reminds us: Don't try to "focus," "concentrate" or "penetrate." Instead, "observe," "watch," "be aware," "pay attention”. There is no need for too much effort or strain in order to maintain mindful awareness. Instead, it requires intention, a degree of effort and, of course, remembering to be awake and aware. In fact, one translation of the Pali word for mindfulness is “present moment recollection”.
Springtime can help our mindfulness along by offering a wide variety of vivid, pleasant experiences for all the senses. The season invites attending to the simple
yet extraordinary beauty of nature unfolding all around us. Nature offers so much opportunity to balance our lives with beauty, gratitude, and appreciation of everyday lovely experiences --- right here for the seeing, the feeling, touching, the tasting.
Have you noticed, for example … vibrant new floral arrangements emerging day after day? Everywhere we look --- colors, textures, tones ---are continually changing: emerging, reaching full brilliance, fading away. One day yellow is center stage in the arrangement, then pink, then green.
Encouraging myself to walk daily – alone or with friends – I have been enjoying these visible changes. Some days, the changes are subtle and require a more careful attention: the hint of color as bushes and trees are just beginning to bud. On other days, the changes pop out right in front of my eyes. Take last month for example when forsythias fully opened from seemingly nowhere: suddenly (so it seemed, although we know not true) brilliant yellow punctuating a grey landscape . This past week, the leaves on oak trees exploded and now deep green emerges from a background palette into center stage!
Is it my imagination that all the rain this spring has made nature’s hues even more vivid?
Visual changes are one aspect of springtime’s beauty. But, with a bit of mindfulness, our other senses come alive as well: the loud chirping of many eager birds busily finding mates and nest-building; the indescribable yet distinctive salty, primal & invigorating aroma of ocean spray ; the wet, earthy, briny odor of our Island’s marshlands; – all a feast for our senses. What an excellent time to come out of our heads and into the present moment!