Old fashioned mindfulness…taking the time to see what is around you.

I’m watching 2 cats one ginger and one black, fight over territory on my lawn, until this point I thought I had sole ownership of my small plot of land but I’ve realised that I’m just one of the many who use it and potentially calls it theirs. Do we really own anything I’m wondering in a moment of existential crisis?

The black one is sadly getting the beating of its life, cats do that thing where they make themselves look huge by arching their back and putting their fur out. I’m not considering this is going to go well for the black cat because only 2 weeks ago the ginger cat saw my dog off, it stood its ground in its garden and had the dog on the back foot in a matter of seconds. It then had the dog whining and talking to it, probably asking for forgiveness, and I even I thought with how highly strung my whippet is, that this is a cat that deserves respect.

Back to the ongoing fight and the noise is horrendous with the high pitched screeching. Wafer thin whippet is up on the chair doing a cat scan, watching as the fight ensues and now finally I’m out to referee and see that everything is fair since it’s all happening on what until that moment I had thought was my territory as outlined on my house deeds.

My dad used to sit and watch the animals and birds out the back patio windows for hours, he would delight telling me about their antics as he would rest after a day of delivering goods and cycling miles with his job. I just thought how it wasn’t rock and roll and at that point had no realisation how much you could become like your parents. I know that if you are under 30 at this point you will be saying no that can’t be the case, over 40 I know you are nodding in agreement sadly wondering how it could end up that way without you noticing. My dad was, in reality, my first teacher in mindfulness, he did jigsaws, he tinkered in the shed with his bike, he would sit and contemplate life, he kept life simple, well, as simple as life can be, and he would sit and watch the life in the garden. He knew how to be mindful because he just lived it as part of his life.

Now in Northern Ireland, as some of you will know my office has a similar view to the one my father would have had onto the garden out of the patio windows, and I’m now watching Big John Crow, who sits alone on what he potentially considers his fence. I rarely see any other bird on there, and to be honest after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds I’m not likely to take him on and I’ve noticed the whippet leaves him alone as well. I watch how the birds make space for each other on the overhead lines, jiggling themselves one way then the other as another one squeezes in.

At one point I was expecting Norris McWhirter to show up for said birds because I did think they were going for a world record-breaking attempt in the vein of how many people can you get into a mini. I had started to imagine that this days flock were attempting how many birds can they get on a standard sized TV aerial on a 3 bedroom house.

It was 25 in case you were wondering.

Observing the life that is happening around us is something that my dad taught me, he would make stories up about what they might be doing, which I thought were silly, except I’ve only really appreciated his mindfulness and creativity in the last few years.

We are driven almost to distraction now with the plethora of things we can do in each moment but it’s OK to turn your phone off, switch the notifications to silent and just be, my dad just sat and watched, no sound on so that the life in the garden wasn’t chased away.

I’ve noticed the proliferation in mindfulness tools including timers, apps, and colouring books, we were brought up on jigsaws, and colouring books, and recently I found Barneys Newsbox, a jigsaw emporium with jigsaws up to 32500 pieces, yes that is the right number! Go if you love jigsaws because you won’t believe your eyes.

Take the time to walk or cycle rather than taking the bus or Tube, taking time to look at our surroundings and the people rather than the screen in our hands. Taking time to engage in what we are doing rather than phasing out. Taking time in nature to be, or just be in general should be one of your ingredients that make up your life.

This week I met an accordion player called Seamus, his advice was why do people worry? What is the point of worry, it fills up your mind with useless thoughts, which never helped anyone. It’s not a bad ingredient to add to the diet.


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