Smiling for Now

Smile! Plotchment at Cinemallunga, Bollywood night, 2019

For just over a year I’ve been doing mindfulness practices in a structured way, which is a lot more fun than it sounds in this sentence! Each week or so, depending on how diligent I’ve been with remembering to practice (!), I turn over a new card from my deck of ‘Mindfulness on the Go’ cards and step into a new way of being present in the moment.

It’s been an exciting challenge as well as a here-and-now grounding. So often when I attend to the week’s challenge I discover that I’ve had a sensation of being literally off the ground, like a kite buoyed by wind currents my mind has been off in random directions, flitting from the past to the imagined future and back again in fractions of a second. It feels so good to come back down to earth and actually be where I am here and now.

One of mindfulness cards that has felt the oddest to do – and probably looked the oddest to casual observers – is the ‘look up’ practice. Even when I’m alone on the loo and, remembering that I’m meant to be looking up, gazing at the bathroom ceiling I feel like a twit just imagining what someone else would think if they saw me examining the ceiling so earnestly! And that’s how easy it is for our monkey mind to escape the present and move into an imagined future scenario – no one is going to see me in there! It takes a great deal of effort sometimes to drag my mind back to here and now, back to the fascinating ceiling above me. It’s certainly a much easier challenge when you’re somewhere interesting, which is a great incentive to remember to do it at times when you’re not on the loo! It’s a lovely practice in the city of Adelaide admiring the many heritage buildings, or in my home town revelling in the beauty of ancient gum trees or birds in flight or simply the expanse of the sky above us, stretching to infinity. My human concerns become tiny, become just part of a massive continuum that we will never understand in my lifetime or possibly ever, but of which we are nonetheless a small, miraculous part.

And so, I am present.

The final card of the 52 was a pretty easy one for me: smile. The cards go into more detail than the headings I’ve given here, and there’s a companion book too, but the essence is to break out of the heightened concerns and tensions we can all too easily fall into habitually and which show on our faces as frowns, downturned mouths, worried expressions. There’s been lots of research into smiling and it has many benefits for our wellbeing, so I took the opportunity to do it even more than usual! For me, it became a practice in noticing how good it feels to smile. I can feel my shoulders come down a little, a happy feeling come over me, more love in my heart, and something approaching the warm tingling feeling you get when you savour a glass of port on a cold winter’s night.

Give it a go. Look in the mirror. Look at your loved one. Smile. It’s a gift to them and to you. And that’s something to smile about right here and now.

© Palitja Moore, text, 2019
© Nathan Moore, image, 2019

#mindfulness #wellbeing  #plotchment  

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