My daughter texted me from college the other day. “You need to visit and see how beautiful the walk over the Lyman lakes is,” she wrote. “And you’d be proud of how much I appreciate the beauty and how conscious and in the moment I am whenever I cross that bridge.”
I am proud of her – and pleased that she shared this with me. We have been playing with staying in the moment and noticing the beauty around us for years. It started when she was studying to become a bat mitzvah. She was, at times, overwhelmed with all the Hebrew prayers she needed to learn and worried that she’d never get it done. I taught her to calm herself by staying in the moment. As we drove to a Hebrew lesson I’d turn to her and ask, “Where are you right now?” “In the car with you,” she’d answer. “And what do you feel?” I’d ask. “What’s happening right now?” “The breeze on my skin,” she’d offer. “The sunlight streaming through the windshield.”
We found that actively noticing the moment, and staying in the moment, helped her. It helps me too. It amazes me how often I can lose myself in thoughts or worries or fears, but when I stop and notice where I actually am, I can calm. And I can appreciate. There is so much that we miss because we’re lost in our thoughts and moving around on autopilot. But simply stopping, and breathing, and noticing – the feel of my fingers on the keyboard, the coziness of my Ugg slippers, the sweet sound of birds out the window – brings me back to the moment. And to calming whatever crazy thoughts are running through my mind.
I’m glad my daughter notices the beauty of her walk across campus. I’m glad when I stop and look at the trees and pay attention to how stunning the green leaves look against the blue sky. Or the gorgeous colors of autumn. My favorite feeling to notice is the breeze on my skin. It’s such a gentle, calming, loving embrace – and easily missed or ignored. But so wonderful when I’m aware of it.
When I challenge myself to look for these feelings, to call out these sensations, to see the world around me and the wonder of it all, I feel more wonder and more joy.