When I went into hospital about a year and a half ago, I understood that this was my body calling for some attention and a slower pace. It just could not take me rushing my way through healing from my back injury and told me to slow down. And to do that, everyone was saying I should look into mindfullness. It would help me get in contact with my body and help me listen before I was hospitalised the next time.
As I looked into it, I found that mindfullness was described and sold as a much bigger deal and maybe even a lot more special than it really is. Many of the things I’ve loved to do for as long as I can remember I find is in fact an exercise of mindfullness. Take riding my mountain bike along narrow single tracks in the woods, blasting down shaky dirt tracks or trying to cross a sump, it all demands my full presence in the moment. I have to take in the surroundings, listen to the sounds and feel the ground connecting with my tires. I have to be in touch with my body, feel my pulse and my breath, make sure my mind is in every way possible focused on this exact moment, right here and now. If I think about the hill that lies ahead or go through the amazing way I handled a crux a few minutes ago, if I think about what I’ll have for dinner or even worse the contract I need to draw up when I’m back at work, chances are I’m heading straight into a face plant in a few seconds.
Photography is also a very mindful exercise. Mind you, planning a shot ahead and thinking about how you can get a better shot next time after shooting is important. But to get the best images you have to be present in the moment. You never know how the conditions will be next time you’re at that exact location, and you never know how all the coincidences will work together in this exact moment to give you the best capture. So as you are shooting, you don’t have any other choice but to exercise mindfullness. You have to be aware of your breathing and pulse, try to calm it down to make sure you are ready to push the trigger at exactly the right moment. You have to feel the strain in your neck, and be aware of the mosquito walking across your index finger, to make sure that none of that comes in the way of shooting the exact moment you wanted to freeze. And you have to see how the light shifts, feel how the wind is settling and observe how the flowers stop moving just for a second so that you are able to capture natures razor sharp beauty. It is and exercise of mindfullness like no other.
For me the difficult thing has been to exercise mindfullness when I’m not doing anything. When I’m simply sitting outside lounging in the sun. I listen to the birds chirping, I feel the sun on my skin, but my thoughts wander to what I’m doing next all the time. Is it time to water the plants, should I go for a ride with my bike, maybe my son wants to build some legos, the dog needs a walk I think, my wife would probably appreciate it if I washed the car. Or lately; I think I need to write a post on my blog. So my big goal for the summer is to get better at just being in the moment even when the moment doesn’t demand my full attention.