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A five-minute wonder. Tuesday October 15, 2013

Is your head a whirl of worries and your diary one long 'to-do' list?

If our minds are buzzier than a beehive, it's often impossible to discern what matters and what doesn't.

We can find ourselves telling off our children for the tiniest transgressions, cursing colleagues for simply doing their jobs and sighing heavily at strangers for doing nothing more criminal than walking more slowly than we are.

Whilst it's easy to get perspective on someone else's problems, it's much harder with our own. So I thought I'd share an exercise we were invited to do on a recent yoga retreat which I found helped me gain some distance from fretting. It only takes a few minutes. What's more, it's free, and you can do it wherever you are.

At some point today, preferably in daylight hours, take five minutes to go outside. Leave your phone, your cigarettes, your friends, and go alone (though if it's raining, I will permit a brolly). On our retreat we went into an orchard to get in touch with nature, but actually, the heart of the city will do just as well. Now, experience what's around you.


But don't do this half-heartedly, do it with your full attention. See the ladybird on a leaf, a raindrop running down a window. Hear the tweet of birds, the thrum of distant traffic. Feel the damp blades of grass beneath your feet, the cool metal of a handrail. Smell the salt in the sea air, the bakery on the corner...

Breathe deeply as you do this, and every time one of your worries pops into your brain, gently push it away, and refocus on your senses.

Feels good, doesn't it?

Next, look up into the sky: even if it's grey, picture how far away those clouds are, and the space above them. Imagine yourself seeing the world from on high, with Earth as part of the solar system with the moon, the planets, the sun. Then close your eyes and think of the millions upon millions of stars, in a vast, vast universe, that stretches so far we can't begin to conceive it. And remember that you are only one very, very small part of this universe, just like a ladybird or raindrop, and your worries are only very, very small part of you.

In a few days, some of your worries will have passed, and even if they are still plaguing you, in the general scheme of things, given the perspective of the whole universe, they don't really matter so much, do they?

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Linda Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 6:52am

I love this activity. It DOES put things into perspective...there are so many more things BIGGER than us and our problems...and we are but a tiny part of the whole "package" me a sense of freedom, really..

Adam Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 7:01am

Excellent piece!

Nick Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 8:07am

About forty years ago, I visited a Buddhist retreat in France for about a week on a photographic assignment. It changed my life.
It gave me a spiritual peace and insight into life that I have never put out of my mind.
How I wish all these years on that I had followed up upon the opportunity to learn more.
Sometimes thing are offered to you, and one should accept the moment.
Perhaps it's never too late to start.
I loved your article, Sarah, thank you.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 9:05am

Today's post reminded me of Monty Python's wonderful 'Galaxy Song'. An added bonus - as well as having a similar sentiment, if a bit more frivolous, it never fails to make me smile.

bright_lemon_tree Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 10:11am

I really like this post, thank you, Sarah. A brief exercise to help one regain mindfulness and perspective, I'd like to try and do it regularly.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 12:23pm

Today I feel content. It wasn't always that way. I take pleasure in nature ( free!) and no longer compare myself to others or wish I was them. Each day is a new chance to do something on the tick list, or do nothing and drop the guilt that used to cause me. It's looking for fulfilment in the right places that is all important.

Sarah Tue, Oct 15th 2013 @ 2:00pm

Thank you, Bright Lemon Tree (lovely name) and Nick and Anonymous people, for saying thank you. Yes, there's a lot of energy around comparison isn't there? I've been thinking how much negativity and insecurity it can breed recently, so I think I shall make it that's the subject of my next post!

Anonymous Sat, Oct 26th 2013 @ 1:02pm

this is mindfulness

Anonymous Sat, Oct 26th 2013 @ 1:12pm

and ecotherapy

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