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?

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