As October ushers itself in, the subtle shifts of one season surrendering to another become apparent. Do you ever wonder where the time goes? You may ask, “How did September sneak by and leave without warning?” Often the rapid pace of life creates a whirlwind of perpetual motion and we forget to take the time to notice leaves hinting of autumn or the harbingers of rain on its way. Learning to notice the little things in our lives, in nature, and in others can slow time in its tracks and give us those fleeting moments we may have missed had we not paid attention.
George Bemanos, a well-known French author and WWI soldier once said; “Little things mean nothing but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but altogether perfume the air.” How many times when you are in a hurry have you overlooked the setting sun as it paints the sky purple and pink? The majestic colors lost in the moment as you text your friend that you are running late. One way to slow down and take it all in is to have a silent conversation with yourself and breathe. Gently remind yourself that you can take the time to smell those infamous roses or listen to the chirping of a mocking bird; the “to-do” list isn’t going anywhere. Gaining a deeper sense of peace is one of the many benefits of noting the little things Mother Earth has generously given us.
Taking in the nuances of life, such as the leaves dancing on a wall when the sun shines through the window or the ripple of water as the wind grazes over it, brings beauty and connection into our lives. Listen to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and allow yourself time to reflect, to smile within. Waking up to little things beckons us back to childhood, when noticing was instinctive. Reflect back to the first time you smelled the earthy scent of moist dirt either in a garden or a forest. Close your eyes and harken back to gazing at the stars as a child, marveling at finding the big dipper or seeing a harvest moon. By creating a practice of noticing we can reconnect with that child-like imagination that dares us to dive into our creativity. When you take time to truly see the little things, you begin to appreciate the abundant beauty that has perhaps been invisible in the past.
Noticing the little things, like sadness on a strangers’ face or the look of wonderment in a child’s eyes gives you a peek into the heart of another. Cultivating this practice of paying attention, allows you to be present in your own emotional life as well. When you are present, you live more in the moment, less in fear of the future or regret of the past. Being aware of your posture and body language polishes your intuitive skills and plugs you into the currents of the here and now. Developing sensitivity to the understated signals we receive from others, fosters empathy and positive communication.
By taking note of the small things in your life, you develop a sense of appreciation for all that went un-noticed before. Try watching the quality of your breath. If you pay attention—you can slow it down, which in turn physically provides you with a way to ease stress and calm the nervous system. For example, if you notice that your breathing is shallow and your shoulders are up around your ears; pause and breathe slowly to the count of five. Then exhale slowly to the count of five. Allow your shoulders to slide down the back, the neck elongates as the crown of the head lifts and the sitz bones root.
By noticing the little things in life, the sun on your face on a lazy afternoon, sharing a chat with a friend, creates a life filled with contentment and joy that is not dependent on how much money you have or what you own. .
Perhaps in the upcoming week notice the little things in your life and maybe even write them down. If you live in the middle of a bustling city, find a park or a street where there are lots of trees to admire. Notice your inner feelings and how often you smile. Listen for the sounds of children playing or smell the familiar rich scent of your coffee or tea. Noticing wakes you up to the moments of your life and gives you permission to slow it down. Not all pleasures in life have to be bought. Simply sitting under a tree for a few moments can give you back the freedom to daydream and to reconnect with the many gifts in your life. Noticing the little things gives value to what has been surrounding you all along.