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Yoga and Healing Arts

The Extraordinary Within The Ordinary

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Tea Room Conversation, Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts

After studying with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and earning certification in Positive Psychology, Martha is now writing and teaching on the topics of well-being and happiness.

She is also a Reiki II practitioner, trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and recently served as a teaching assistant for psychologist Maria Sirois in a 3-month course entitled Crafting the Resilient Life, offered at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.

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Tea Room Conversation

Author: Martha Fagan

Moments matter. Life is made up of moments—tasks needing our attention, duties, commitments, expectations and work to be done. Most days consist of these ordinary moments strung together into hours, days, weeks, months and years. The fabric of life is a weaving together of these small, simple moments, not the big life changing moments—though it is the big ones we tend to remember. Making the ordinary moments matter is our challenge and, ultimately, our rich reward.

How often do we replay and ruminate about the past or anxiously anticipate our unknown future? Our preoccupation with times other than now cost us dearly—on two levels—we miss the present moment and miss the memory to reflect on that moment. How often have we arrived at a destination without any recollection of the journey that brought us there? Or, finished a meal without really tasting the food?

We say, “Be present!” and, laughably, the reality is there is nowhere else we can be…now is the only time and place. Our choice lies in how we choose to be present in the simple, often mundane moment of now.

What would it be like to be mindful enough to notice all there is around us? I decided to try just that, focusing on keeping my mind’s focus on the moments of my day with wide-open eyes.

Walking my dog in the early morning hours is part of my daily routine. This seemed a natural place to begin to actively notice my surroundings and take the time to soak them in. I see my beloved doggie walk with a spring in her step and witness her curiosity with each new smell; she is certainly present.

I gaze towards the heavens and see the clouds offering their beauty, as beautiful as magnificent works of fine art. Their shapes and shadows spark my imagination, beckoning me to see their unique splendor as they transform and evolve while gliding effortlessly through the sky. The morning layer of frost on the grass holds the colors of the rainbow as the sun hits its surface. I inhale the crisp autumn air that carries the smell of the fallen leaves and wood burning. I drink in the beauty of evergreen trees, holding their dense green needles in defiance of the change in season. I feel the wind against my face bringing a tear to my eye and causing the leaves on the ground to swirl and land in new patterns on the damp earth. This quiet country road holds extraordinary sights and sounds, always there, though rarely noticed by most who travel its path.

This simple first step has led me deep into my days, consciously choosing mindfulness, noticing what is surrounding me and within me. I strive to listen with full attention when others speak, not formulating my answer, rather respecting their unique voice. When washing dishes or riding in the car I remind myself to let my mind quiet. The dishes need to be washed so why not choose to be mindful while doing this ‘mindless’ task? I know I have no control over traffic and will not arrive any sooner by becoming anxious, edgy and irritated, why not notice the sights on the road along the way?

I ask myself is this all too Pollyanna??...possibly so. Though I have come to realize how much control we do have in our moments. The ordinary is really quite extraordinary when we make room for ourselves to savor the small treasures there for the noticing…a friend’s smile, a familiar touch, a good book, a flavorful mouthful of food, a short nap, a hot shower, digging in the dirt, riding a bike or just a moment of settling in to our thoughts.

Making the moments matter is a way towards transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, as long as we choose to look through a lens that notices the ‘extra’ in the ordinary.

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