It’s one of those mornings. The not so good ones. I stumble into the kitchen in a fog of zombiness: I haven't slept well (blame it on good ol’ menopause).
Consequently the usual junk in my head is a little louder than it needs to be.
Okay, a lot louder.
Mechanically, I start to squeeze orange juice and am dimly aware of my son at the sink.
It’s the first day of his HSC exams and he's reciting quotes for the morning’s English paper. (Believe me, it's the first and only time he will ever recite Shakespeare. He’s already got plans to burn his study notes when he gets home.)
But let's get back to me. Back to my grumble. Back to the dank labyrinth of my ruminating mind.
The gunky place.
I’m recalling gripes and grievances and playing them on a loop. Barely aware I’m doing so.
THE STARTLE EFFECT
Hang on, did I say reciting Shakespeare? OMG! The brain is drawn by novelty and before I know it, a little corner of my grimy mind has left struggle street, enlivened by the amazing fact of an eighteen year old quoting the bard. Unbelievable.
Then whoosh, the tiny mind fragment is sucked back into my engrossed internal narrative and the world is shut out again.
I'm re-lodged in my foggy head and I barely even notice what a horrible place it is.
TURNING THE CORNER
Orange juice squeezed, I take a sip. Oooo, tangy, tingly, bright and zingy! It fires me into the present. Oh, the power of the senses to do this!
And for the first time this morning I actually SEE my son.
I see him because there's only one place we can really see things and that is the present moment. The seeing simultaneously pulls me out of the den in my skull; the folds of unease and dissatisfaction diminish.
Hello beautiful outside world, always there for me when I need a break from my inner crap.
MORE AND MORE BEAUTIFUL
The present moment comes into clearer focus when I notice there is a Princess Parrot perched on my son’s shoulder. The bird is the neighbour’s and he often comes visiting. A social and intelligent little fellow he is.
My clarity of seeing increases on spying the high-viz green markings on his glorious wings; the majestic length of his arrow-straight tail; the perky eye. The bright greens and soft pinks awaken my senses more and more.
BRIGHT AND ALIVE
Now I'm really in The Now. The delicious tang of fresh orange juice on my tongue, the sound of Shakespeare in my ear; the sight of a colourful bird visitor.
With I rush, I feel, deeply FEEL, the momentous nature of the occasion: my son on the brink of his first big exam. A never-to-be-repeated moment.
It occurs to me that if it weren’t for the orange juice bringing my senses alive, I might have missed this moment. I might have been completely oblivious, stuck in my stoopid head.
The power of the senses to connect us to the present moment, to life in all its glory, is phenomenal. And the present moment, as Andy Puddicombe of Headspace says, “is underrated”.
Joy at my fingertips. It makes me wonder: how often do I push it away?
copyright Shakti Burke 2016
5 4 3 2 1 A Senses Practice
1. Notice 5 things you can see. Go for unusual observations like the way the shadows play on the ceiling, or the join between the door and the wall.
2. Notice 4 things you can feel (the soles of your feet; the air on your arm; the back of the chair).
3. Notice 3 things you can hear (birds in the distance; a car passing)
4. Notice 2 things you can smell (upholstery; rain)
5. Notice 1 thing you can taste (hmmm, now what could that be?)
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