It felt as if we had temporarily returned to winter at the start of the week. Even the bluebells looked as if they were in shock as I walked across the fields, having dug my fleece out from the wardrobe for what I hoped would be “one last hurrah”. Daisy was unfazed and snuffled suspiciously around the sheep dung.
There is much to be said for simplicity when it comes to genuine gratitude, but it’s so easy to see straight past it.
Walking up from the church the hill climbs into the woodland on the Downs and, glancing behind, the worn grass traces a gently winding path back on the ground while the horizon falls to leave a panorama of the town at its feet. There’s nothing special about this. Similar and indeed, much more dramatic landscapes can be viewed in just the same way, but they are not right now, here in this moment. This view always exists, in every weather, and asks only that I notice and appreciate it.
Daisy, at nine months, is in season. The task of keeping her away from potential doggy suitors is all consuming. More time on the lead than she would like and a vigilance in me, when she is off it, which would not be out of place in a prisoner on the run, scanning for the hounds pursuing him into the undergrowth. It might be a challenge but I have to be truly in the moment, and that is always a gift.
Mindfulness is frequently lauded as a panacea for all manner of ills. Most recently there were reports suggesting that it might have an impact on reducing the onset of Alzheimers and dementia.
The more exposure I have had to mindfulness and with every positive impact I have seen from its use with my clients the more apparent it becomes that gratitude speeds and strengthens its power.
Being “in the moment” is much easier if we find ourselves able to appreciate something about the moment we’re in. I might feel awful but, if I can derive a crumb of joy from the sun on my face or an unusual bird singing in a tree, choosing to stand here is so much easier.
What makes us time travel more than anything is a discomfort with our own emotions. To anchor in the middle of discomfort requires some semblance of contrast, an acknowledgement that the possibility of something tiny but beautiful in mitigation is present.
I seem to have had countless conversations this week with clients who are determined to feel bad about themselves. When an uplift in mood comes, through some random moment of success or achievement, or even via their own efforts to dull anxiety through mindfulness or self-hypnosis, the dark clouds soon return. Nothing seems to make a lasting and fundamental change. It’s because mindfulness without self-acceptance is not enough.
To be emotionally free is to be in the moment finding something positive amongst however much is bad.
As the sun returned with a vengeance at the weekend we prepared to celebrate my daughters birthday. When they grow up it’s easy to look wistfully at the past when they were small, wide-eyed and full of wonder.
On the other side of the street, a small child with flowing blonde hair walks with her grandmother. She reminds me of Beth when she was very young.
Clutching a bright yellow bloom in her hand she says “Granny. I love this flower”. I smile to myself and look at the bunch of pale pink tulips and white roses I carry in my hands for my own daughter, much less a child now but blossoming into a young woman, and I’m back in the moment, full of gratitude.
That’s a state which is as near as we ever get to serenity.