The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.
– Basho, (1644-1694)
In therapy, one of the things counselors like to share with clients is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is something that everyone, even kids, can learn. It is bringing attention to the experiencing of the moment. The idea is sensual noticing, acknowledging thoughts and accepting feelings. But practicing mindfulness can also be incorporated into daily life, to uplift the moment. For this exercise, we will use the frog haiku poem as mindfulness inspiration.
Basho, a famous Japanese poet, wrote the above haiku in the fifteenth century. It recalls just one single moment of nature. The silence is part of it. The sound of the water is easy to imagine. When you think of it, can you visualize the moment? What do you see, hear, smell?
Here is an exercise in mindfulness that anyone can do. Pay attention to the details and experience of nature like Basho. Think of it like producing mini ‘Insta’ moments for your senses and mind. This can be done anywhere there are elements of nature. When you notice something beautiful or special, breath it
in deeply like you are smelling a beautiful rose.
Here are some ideas:
-Take a nature walk in your neighborhood and focus on the flora and fauna in all the yards, any nature sounds you hear and the state of the sky. Breath it all in.
-Go to a botanical garden and give yourself permission to soak up the beauty of each tree, flower and shrub. Breath it all in.
-Go bird watching. Take in all the splendor of the environment. Enjoy the movement of bird flight. Breath it all in.
-Sit or take a walk on the beach, noticing the sounds of the waves, the colors and shapes of the shells, the rocks, and the composition of the horizon. Watch the sun rise or set. Breath it all in.
-Buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers and take time to study them. Look at their textures and colors and smell each part of them. Breath it all in.
-Listen to the birds in the morning through your windows. Florida is a place with birdsong. Tune in to them like a radio channel. Breath it all in.
-Try kayaking or paddle-boarding and notice all the life under the water. Breath it all in.
-Grow a seed and observe each stage closely. This one is great for kids. Teach them to breath in the moment.
-Stare at the clouds. Notice subtle colors, the sky in in motion. Look for beauty. Breath it all in.
-Houseplants are also a reliable source of connecting with nature. Study the beauty of an orchid, or the smell of a basil plant.
The exciting news is that you can bring mindfulness to anything. You can do your dishes mindfully. You can play with your children mindfully and interact with your partner mindfully. You can bring it into the shower, and to yardwork. Mindfulness is kind of like magic because it transforms the moment. If you transform enough moments, your life will be transformed.
Written by Megan McKeon – Mental Health Graduate Student at University of the Cumberlands