Sweater weather is here, slow down, connect, enjoy
By Meryl Gwinn
November is a month for slowing down, sweatering up and applying ChapStick relentlessly. At first, I set out to write about the vibrant autumn colors, the fall farm vegetable harvest (of course) or something similar to evoke the cozy, nostalgic, flannel-shirt feeling that is “so this season.”
But the truth is, lately, I’ve been thinking about how rather than slowing, everything seems to be speeding up. We’re super-charged by technology and consumed by ever-busier schedules. With that in mind, I decided to take a moment for peace and write a tribute to the practice of mindfulness and simply relaxing into the rich, present moment.
So here’s to the art of the pause, taking time to genuinely engage with one other. Here’s to the idea of being active contributors to a stronger community and a kinder, safer living space for all to enjoy.
Whatever the major culprits contributing to our endless scurrying—smartphones, marketing bombardment, habitual multitasking—let’s just realize our current state. We’re distracted. Rather than clear minds and present participation, we often live in a zone of intensity and anxiety, a swirl of speed and impatience.
A friend said to me recently, “We have no right to stress ourselves out; to live any way less than in joyful appreciation.” Why live inside a swirling tornado of a million tasks and thoughts that remove us from what’s happening around us and distract us from being grateful for our current moments? Who are we to be so preoccupied that we no longer have simple compassion for our neighbors who happen to be driving slower than us or taking a little extra time in the crosswalk?
There is a lot of opportunity for entertainment while fully participating in the daily world. The line at the market can truly be comical if we just relax and take it all in. Look up, notice someone and consider what they’re about. Say something to make someone laugh. We’re all sharing experiences. Why not engage with those around us? Connection is, after all, what we’re really looking for. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Let’s resolve not to check our text messages while driving as a tribute to someone who has suffered because of it. Aside from the obvious safety issue, what’s wrong with simply taking time to think? In each of our psyches there is something profound aching to rise to the surface. Perhaps if we would just pause long enough and give our texting thumbs a rest, some grand ideas could be realized. Since when should we be forever reachable, anyway? Losing precious moments for ourselves to just “be” could be contributing to a major loss of creativity and solutions for the entire system.
How can we be fully effective when we’re flipping through radio stations, driving, sipping lattes, checking emails and pondering tomorrow’s schedule? We’ve all caught ourselves there—boy it’s exhausting—and all we’re doing is sitting in a car.
Take some time this month to retreat to a place that is uniquely your own. Observe your breathing, meditate, walk, quiet your mind, un-clutter your space. Take the time to really watch the sunset, or the clouds, or the waves. Ask a question. Admire someone and then tell them. Smile and notice your appreciation for just being you, here and now, or laugh because you feel like a child after catching yourself smiling at the flowers. What develops, I believe, is a greater sense of being alive.
Cheers to a season of gentleness, connection and engagement. Our communities will be grateful. I’m sure of it.
Meryl Gwinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, has studied yoga, health, food, and humans around the globe. She is a constant pursuer of natural medicine and whole-healing solutions. Gwinn welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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