It’s summer. The days are longer and warmer. Here in North Carolina where I live the crickets and frogs are singing at night and the birds are singing all day. I can often detect the sweet smell of honeysuckle or gardenias this time of year.
If you are a student, the rhythm of your life probably changes this time of year. No more homework or exams, and maybe you move back home or somewhere else for a job or internship.
Actually, even if you are not a student your life probably shifts a bit, because summertime means spending your time a bit differently. Maybe you see friends you don’t usually see or travel places you don’t usually go or do things that happen only in the summer.
I could really feel that summer had arrived this past weekend. My friends and I rode our bikes by the baseball stadium Saturday evening. I slowed down to enjoy the sight of young people and families streaming in for a night of watching the Durham Bulls play ball followed by the sparkle and boom of fireworks in the night sky.
I had a sense that for the evening we had all let go of our struggles and were just enjoying the sweetness of a summer Saturday night.
And I felt immensely grateful. Grateful that years ago I had stumbled onto the concept of mindfulness and been lucky enough to find teachers and friends to support me as I learned how to wake up to my life.
In the 20+ years since I started practicing mindfulness there have been many beautiful moments that I registered with clarity and delight. Many of these moments would likely have gone unnoticed if I hadn’t trained my mind to notice what is happening in front of me most of the time. Moments of laughter with friends, beautiful sunsets, the feeling of a job well done.
This summer, maybe you can take some time to notice some of the pleasures in your life. Really sink into them, embrace them.
Sure we all have difficult times and problems, but if we give our full attention to some of the sweet moments, the rough moments are a little bit easier to bear.
Summertime, with its slightly relaxed schedule, may be the perfect time for you to spend a bit of time developing your mindfulness muscle. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to tune into your senses. Learning to be awake and grateful for your life doesn’t have to be hard.
Try these 4 simple steps:
- Step outside and take 10 slow deep breaths.
- Notice what you can hear and see and smell. If worries or doubts come into your mind, just bring your attention back to your breath.
- Give a compliment to someone who works with you or helps you in some way or maybe just the next person you see.
- Before you go to bed, write down a couple things you feel grateful for.
Repeat these steps most days. It will help you live with awareness and gratitude. Notice the difference that makes in your life, and share your observations below . And enjoy your summer!