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The Joy of……. Paying Attention

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At a recent weekend workshop, I had the humbling, yet illuminating experience of discovering just how much I miss seeing when I’m focused on where I’m going and dashing by the scenery.   Our assignment was to think about something we want more of in our lives and then go for a walking meditation in the beautiful woods surrounding the retreat center and see what we noticed pertaining to our stated desire.

Sandbox - Allison Rimm Paying AttentionMy goal was to create more space for fun and play after realizing I’d been far too focused on work and chores and too little on laughter for far too long.  With that intention, I walked out the front door and immediately had my answer. During every break that day, I’d run out to my car for one reason or another, so I was shocked to discover I’d walked by a sandbox and play area five times without even noticing it was there.  Only when I headed off to the woods with a focus on play, did I even see it.

We experience what we focus on and, in the process, miss a lot of what is right in front of us.  I’d been so focused on retrieving items from the car that I’d missed the glaringly present play area.  How often have you been so focused on achieving a goal or getting someplace in a hurry, that you didn’t even notice the scenery or fully experience the joy of traveling from where you were to where you wanted to be?

This morning, on my way back from yoga, I decided to notice – really notice – the scenery along the way.  In the early, misty morning with the sun still rising, the lighting was exquisite. This was the first time I’d really seen that the trees are finally all fully leafed out and looking quite lush and alive with springtime possibilities after the long barren-looking winter.  I saw some beautiful English ivy climbing a brick wall and flirting with rhododendron blossoms on a neighboring shrub.

And I really looked at the people on the sidewalk heading off to work and imagined what they were thinking about and what the day ahead held for them.  What a fascinating ride back to the office.  I’d made that trip hundreds of times, but never like that.  I arrived at my destination fully refreshed from the yoga and so appreciative of the beauty surrounding me.  Now, I have the joy of recalling the journey as I share it with you.

I’m looking forward to my new game: searching out all the things I’ve driven or walked by countless times without noticing.  It calls to mind that puzzle in the children’s magazine Highlights where you have to find the objects hidden in a drawing that are not at all apparent until you really look for them.  As a kid, these games were my favorite part of going to the pediatrician’s office where I’d hope for a long time in the waiting room.  Newly aware, I get to play that game whenever I go out.  Now, there’s some of the play I was looking for in that fateful walk in the woods.  Fun, right here in my own neighborhood!

What fun and beautiful things will you see all around when you really look at them and choose to be present to fully experience them?  Go enjoy and then share the tales of your adventures with us!

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