Do you remember when you were little and you’d spend, what felt like hours, lying on the grass and staring at the sky?
Watching the clouds form and change and pass? Watching, with fascination, the colours behind your closed eye lids as the sun shone on your face?
Ah, those innocent pleasures of childhood. And the time to enjoy them without question or guilt.
How often do you allow yourself time just to stand and stare now?
I’m guessing not so much? Between the work demands, your family’s demands, all the life admin that keeps stacking up every day, eating, sleeping. The daily rush and never-ending demands on your time and attention. Stand and stare? You must be joking!
If you do get a few moments to yourself chances are you’re so exhausted that you flop down on the sofa or you feel guilty that you’re “relaxing” so push on through to tick off the next task which needs doing.
I know how it feels.
Listen to the whisper of your heart
BUT, I also know, because I feel it myself, that there’s a little part of your soul – a quiet but insistent voice within – that keeps tugging at your sleeve, as it were. Saying “listen, watch, isn’t that flower beautiful?!”.
It yearns for you to let yourself sit and watch and listen and notice.
If, like me, you’re highly sensitive, you secretly love just to stop and notice the simple pleasures of life all around you. The delicate, blooming beauty of flowers. The reflection of trees on water. The clouds. The bird song. The whisper of wind in trees.
When I’m out and about – as I was at Mottisfont Abbey & Gardens recently surrounded by the signs of spring – the words “what is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare” arise in my mind.
And isn’t that true?
I love the words of this, one of my favourite poems – Leisure by WH Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Truly, what is this life if we can’t stop awhile and notice? Contemplate our surroundings?
If we can’t press pause, breathe, look outside ourselves and our anxious, contracting minds?
Expand your awareness and watch a bird in the garden – it’s so fascinating as they hop and flit about their business without a care in the world, reminding us that we are sharing our environment with other living creatures.
Listening to the breeze in the trees quietens the incessant chatter of our monkey minds and encourages us to have a mind like sky – open, expansive, infinite.
Pondering the stars in the night sky brings perspective on the smallness of our planet in the mystery of life. It reminds us we are just one in over 7 billion souls on this planet, circulating a sun which is just one of billions of stars in the universe. (If that doesn’t give you perspective I don’t know what will!)
Watch with mindfulness
If your mind needs permission to do this, then practise watching as a mindfulness technique.
Take a flower, a candle, a crystal, or a picture of a loved one…whatever you’d like to… and sit in front of it and just gaze at it.
Give it your full attention.
Notice the colours… Notice the shapes… Notice texture, size, light and dark.
Be curious. Take it all in. Just gaze.
Let any thoughts come… and go.
Breathe. Just watch. Be in the moment. Let nothing else matter for these moments.
Feel your body, breath and mind settling.
How do you feel now? More present? Calmer? Still? Content?
So, the answer to the question “do you have time to stand and stare” is a resounding YES!
Create that time – just a few moments. Give yourself permission.
It doesn’t have to be grand or beautiful. Just look at something in front of you, relax your gaze, breathe and settle into the present moment.
And feed your soul.