Recently my husband and I attended the Carol King songbook symphony. My husband looked around the room and joked that the audience looked like the same group as the recent Bruce Springsteen concert (we baby boomers have great taste!)
The symphony was accompanied by three wonderful Broadway vocalists. As I listened and watched the full scope of what was happening, I was mesmerized. What struck me was how much there was to notice at the same time. When the vocalists joined in, the experience was exhilarating.
You might be wondering what this has to do with my work in pain, and chronic illness.
Think about how much there is to notice each and every second. Every moment there is a full symphony of sounds, smells, sensations, thoughts, emotions, and so on. Often we get caught up in focusing on only one thing, shutting out the rest, and leaving us missing out on most of what is in front of us. If I had only been focused on the pianist, I would have missed everything else.
This relates to mindfulness – the ability to stay anchored in the present moment, expanding your awareness to all that is happening- without judgment. For example, at this very moment I am writing this newsletter, aware of fatigue in by body, my dog making noises, the cars passing by, my stomach rumbling, sensation in my hip, my mind wandering to the sunshine outside, my feet on the floor, and my fingers pressing the keyboard. I am sure there is more to notice, but you get the idea. If I got into judgment about any one of these, I would be missing most of my experience, because my mind would be somewhere in the future or past.
So, there you have it. You get to choose your experience. Do you want the full symphony or only the percussion? I want the symphony (percussion included.)
It is a constant daily practice of noticing it all, anchoring yourself in the present moment. Let me be clear, it is noticing it all at the same time, not a game of ping pong – going from one thing to the other.
Spring is a great time of year to begin to cultivate this approach. Take in the smells, colors, sounds, and sensations. When you are outside, engage your senses and see for yourself how much richer your experience is. Who knows, maybe you will notice an Easter egg hiding somewhere.