How are you doing? Have you recently taken a moment to stop, breathe and just be? Often, these moments are too few and far between. This is especially true during this time of the year. With spring showers (or snow…or even drought depending on where you are!) comes a deluge of other to-dos. There’s the proverbial spring cleaning that seems to drag on and on; there are seeds to spread, seedlings to pot up and plants to get in the ground; there are lawn mowers to tune and bicycles to clean up; and there is always, ALWAYS, something to re-organize.
During the spring there is definitely a lot of do-ing. It seems like we reserve the winter for our times of reflection and pause–and it makes total sense! It feels right and natural to take time to reflect and meditate on life when the do-ing is lessened. However, I believe that we should aim to include these moments throughout our days, weeks, seasons and lives.
Now, I’m not advocating that we all drop everything and meditate for hours (or even minutes!). While I do think universal meditation would lead to a generally happier populace with fewer wars and more selfless acts, I also realize that it will never happen. As a person who actually wants to incorporate meditation into her life, and has successfully done so in the past, I know all too well that daily dedication is hard even for the motivated. What I’m talking about are little rests where we really notice how it is to be.
In music, teachers and conductors will tell new musicians that the rests in a score are just as important as the notes. They are very important to the music as a whole. There are special notations for rests to remind the musician to pause or breathe.
Just as the musician needs an annotated reminder, I need a reminder to step back and take pauses from life. We’ve all heard the idiom “to give one pause” as in: the accident gave us pause for thought. There are things that happen that force us to stop for a second; and this phrase is good, but it often is in relation to something negative. So, I propose that we take that pause and make a conscious effort to concentrate on it for a brief instant. The pause triggers change depending on what’s going on in one’s life. When I’m taking a lot of yoga classes, they can come from a mindful yoga instructor. When farming, they can come from the smell of cold water when I’m thirsty. Lately, they have been coming from my tea kettle!
Since I’m avoiding caffeine while nursing and can’t seem to justify decaffeinated coffee, I’ve taken to having a hot cup of herbal tea most mornings. We have limited counter space in our small kitchen so in maneuvering hot water to my cup, I often hit the bowl of my standing mixer with the kettle! It makes a beautiful sound reminiscent of a Tibetan singing bowl. It is almost haunting in its deep resonance. It always gives me pause. I take a slow breath in the stillness, I think about how it all is, and gently remind myself about the joy of being.
Then, I continue making my tea, check on the baby, prepare breakfast, let the dog outside and start whatever thing needs to be done. It is a very brief moment in my morning, but one that is very important. The ringing bowl gives me pause which causes me to take pause.
Even though I think about this moment throughout the day, it doesn’t cross my mind in the mornings before it happens. I’m usually on hazy morning auto-pilot, and then daaaauuuuooonnnggg…I’m transported back into myself. I seem to “zone in” at this moment. It is always unexpected and lovely. I wonder if, after writing this and thinking about it so much, it will continue to be as spontaneous.
If this trigger fades from my daily routine, something else is sure to take over. If it comes to it, I could probably condition myself to take a little pause when doing something else that I do every day… I could use a a real Tibetan singing bowl to help center my mind. However, I don’t need to do that right now, and it is great.
This spring has been easier for me than expected. Ava isn’t a very demanding baby, and I am only regularly farming one day per week. The weather has been stellar for everything. My farming friends all seem to be pretty relaxed–most plants are in the ground, we haven’t had a frost in a few weeks and the dry conditions have made the soils easy to till and plant. Everything is about two weeks earlier this year than last, with much better conditions for the little seeds and seedlings. While the early dry soil is nice, we are also hoping that this doesn’t end up to be a drought year.
So, even though my life isn’t very stressful, I appreciate the moments that give me pause from what is going on. I imagine this appreciation would increase exponentially with increased busy-ness and doing.
What gives you pause during your day? Do you have a designated routine or do you need a little reminder like me?
I hope you find a millisecond to take pause today and all days.
Sending you peace and love,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl.
Babies sleeping with piglets give me pause…How many of us can say, ‘Did you ever see that picture of me as a baby, sleeping with that little pig?!?!’ Wonderful…
Still struggling with my new meditation class! I take meditation after my regular yoga class, so that by the time I have wound down at the end of yoga, I am really relaxed..
The problem is staying awake. I love that meditation helps me set unpleasant things aside in life. Like when the neighbor’s dogs bark at me EVERY TIME I walk by the fence! I feel my mind shift to somewhere that I am observing instead of participating. At least most of the time!
Just starting my garden clean-up! Just when I think that it will never get done, it will silently creep up on me and I will have a lovely, productive, blissful place to meditate..
Yes! I love that you are meditating. Speaking of darned dogs….my neighbor dogs are barking right this second, yet again, at something that could possibly move at some point in time. Your reminder to observe instead of react is timely! Best to you and your meditation garden.
I really enjoy your blog and gives me time to “pause” from my normal work and get lost in what’s happening in Alaska. I am from the Midwest, born and raised in Michigan and residing in Northern Indiana. I agree with you that taking the time to smell the flowers is so important. When I do not make time for those moments, my life feels a little more chaotic and less focused. I can easily get anxious about something. But if I have some quiet moments then I feel just the opposite. I love gardening because even though I have to focus on what I’m doing, I find my mind wondering from one thing to the next and I get completely lost in those thoughts. It is hard work and yet it is relaxing. I make time on the weekends for a leisure cup of tea and during the week I end my day with a cup of tea in the evening. I also like to write a quite note or a letter to someone in the evening. It allows my mind to relax and lets others I know I am thinking about them at the same time.
Unlike you all in Alaska, we are running 2-3 weeks behind. We are still dealing with frosts and I have not started my planting. I am hoping that the cold weather this past week is the last and have a lot of plans for the coming holiday weekend. You know the saying…the corn should be knee high by the 4th of July? Well we will be lucky if it is ankle high the way things are going. ha ha! It will be a late harvest for sure.
I noticed in your bio that you spent time in South Korea. A friend of mine lived and taught English in a village in South Korea for a year or two. Wouldn’t it be a really small world if you happened to know one another?
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Thanks for your lovely note, Lisa! I am definitely familiar with “knee high by the 4th of July” and I remember years when the corn was much higher than that (but my knees were a bit lower then…). Talking with folks in MN and ND it sounds like things are behind but improving. Similar to your letter writing, I too have been reveling in letting others know that I am so happy they are here and that we share life together sometimes. I lived in Yeoju, SK from 2008 to 2010. Maybe we do know each other!!
I’m off to find a pig to sleep with.
I live in E. TN and my garden is thriving. I am eating wonderful salads everyday – spinach, kale and three kinds of lettuce and my zucchini plants have exploded. I need my pause early in the morning before the busyness begins; reading, praying and listening preferably on the porch. Nature gives me pause no matter what I am doing – just walking outside calms and refocuses me. Fresh air, sunshine or rain works every time.
Amen! Thank you for the reminder. And the picture of Ava and piglet is one to be framed ! I just finished a 10 week ‘process’ from the book ‘The Presence Process’ by Michael Brown. It was a definite reminder to just BE and breathe !!
Baby Ava and baby pig, how precious. I can feel the comforting weight of the piglet on my lap and understand the secure feeling that Ava must be feeling…a safe sleep…better than a teddy bear.
Hey, Alex, enjoyed your article and I agree that we should avoid running through each day without pausing. We need to see the beautiful world around us. I enjoy an old-fashioned tea time with a hot cup of tea and a small sandwich after I get home from work. I often take the time to read some passage of Scripture during my tea time and just meditate on it while sipping my tea.