For peace of mind, focus on the small spaces in-between

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The simple things bring lasting pleasure

Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.
Liz Vassey

Pausing the monkey mind was once a major priority for me. The constant chatter was deafening and debilitating. A wise woman shared with me a strategy; focus on the silence between the Oms in meditation.  It worked.  Those tiny spaces, for a breath, between the rhythmic chanting allowed my mind to rest and I eventually turned down and tuned out the monkey mind.

Today I see a great need to soothe nervous tension and anxiety, whether caused by work related stress or the result of too many responsibilities and expectations.  A great many people are being pulled into the eddy of chronic psychological dis-ease. Without discounting the support of professionals there may be a way we can help ourselves to resurface and recreate a more joyful life, using a similar strategy as described above. Instead, the attention would be on the small moments of joy between the larger grey periods.  Leader in the field of positive-psychology Marty Seligman, found that by consciously focusing our attention on what we want more of in life we increase our chance of getting it.  So turn your attention away from what you don’t want and see the things you do.  This is tough when you feel overwhelmed, on edge, lacking energy or can’t leave the house. So start small.

A posy of home-grown flowers from a friend, watching birds and animals in the wild (substitute garden), the soft ache of used muscles at the end of a long walk. These things bring me joy. As do following the path of a balloon as it rises into the sky until it is no longer visible or spotting a brightly coloured bush flower in a sea of green undergrowth as well as taking a moment to appreciate the magic of a giant tree soaring overhead while feeling the texture of its bark.  Filling the house with warm and soothing aromas on a cold, wet afternoon while baking cookies and brewing chai tea, the sound of a child’s laughter,  a smile from a stranger. These are the pauses in between.

Peace can be ours. We can rebuild joyful lives and it need cost nothing. Harmony can be restored. These things can be ours if we appreciate the many small moments in life. The first step is to notice. Notice where you focus most of your attention and refocus it if necessary.

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Cradled by a posy of blessings

Train tracks in rural area.

If you take a deep breath, calm down and listen, all things can be dealt with in some way. Just breathe.
                                                                    Katrina Vella

Do you ever feel like you are derailing? That life is so hectic you don’t know whether you are coming or going? I’ve had a few weeks like that. I’ve been working on a wide range of projects at work (all terribly exciting and totally divergent) all with short timelines. I’ve traveled so much for work recently that one morning I woke up and didn’t know where I was. Feeling the pressure of deadlines and being in constant transit took a physical and mental toll. I felt like I was trapped in a fast-moving train heading for a cliff.  Several dear friends and family members have suffer personal tragedies, and while it’s not me experiencing that terrible grief,  it’s heartbreaking not to be able to ease their pain.

Of course I realised something had to give before I crashed or plunged into the depths of some great abyss. As I took action in that direction, the universe conspired to deliver a posy of blessings.

I took a day to find some calm. I always have a sense of unease taking a day off work, even when it is sanctioned, and this day was no different. However,  as the day unfolded I realised that I’d made the right decision and settled.

On the eve of this magical day I went to the cinema, something I don’t do often. I’d won tickets to the pre-release of a film. It wasn’t a great film but I appreciated the night out, it was fun, especially because it was out of routine. Arriving home I didn’t set my alarm for my usual 4.30 am rise and I snuggled down under a warm comforter, as the temperature had dropped significantly.

Arousing from my slumber I was surprised to note I’d slept an hour later than usual.  Feeling slightly dazed but energised I hit the pavement for my walk. It was brisk out.  I went out in my usual gear of shorts and t-shirt but others were rugged up in long pants and jumpers.  Walking later, after the sun had risen, I met a lot of people I don’t normally encounter and so had many warm interactions, smiles and good mornings from people I haven’t met before. Of course my attire was the focus of many comments. While it was brisk I was warm from the movement. These random interactions were buoying.

What was especially warming about my walk was being transported back to my childhood, and into my grandparents’ kitchens, when the distinct aroma from the Weet-Bix factory enveloped the air around me. Weet-Bix are a wheat based biscuit breakfast cereal here in Australia. I don’t eat them now and I never really enjoyed them in the warmer weather but in winter time, my grandmothers would pour warm water over them to soften them, then heat milk on the stove to drown them in, after swirling lashings of honey over the top. It wasn’t exactly food for the gods but the smell of warm Weet-Bix is divine. Being  reminded of the many winter mornings I had spent being loved and cared for by my Grandmothers was a beautiful omen for the day.

Arriving home I sent my friend a message and received a thoughtful blessing from her. She wished me an enjoyable day and “some peaceful space” with a little emoji flower attached🌸. Simple words but their beauty and the heartfelt care and concern behind them struck me.

Flicking briefly onto a social media site the first post I came across was from another friend, whose flower photo seemed to fill the room with its vibrant colour.  It was a simple flower, nothing flashy about it, but it had a stunning effect, and lifted my mood.

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I baked cookies and soon had my house smelling like a warm and buttery. I love the smell of cookies baking at the best of times but on a cold day, there’s something extra special about it.

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I felt as though someone had picked a posy of wild flowers and delivered them to me this morning. I was caught in a net, suspended and cradled from a fall. I was reminded that amid all the sadness, the hustle and bustle and the struggles of life, there is joy and beauty and a multitude of blessings. The key is to take the time to see them and appreciate them. I was reminded too by the words of a wise woman who counsels that; if you take a deep breath, calm down and listen, all things can be dealt with in some way. Just breathe.

Wishing you a posy of blessings today too.

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