Updated: 6 days ago
When I woke this morning I started the adaptive routine - smiled and stretched, opened the window for fresh air and breathed deeply - slowly, deep down into my lungs. Nope, I did not really feel like smiling so I smiled bigger and longer and sure enough a positive mindset peaked around the corner of my consciousness and the cold snowy air and oxygenation kicked me into gear. BUT, I overshot the mark. As soon as I got out of bed I wanted to dive into the to do list, which includes early AM yoga stretches, meditation and a walk before work. It's also my son's birthday today so I planned to get things decorated before he woke up at the crack of 1:00PM (college student;). I started moving rapidly and without focus, beginning with untangling the head phones that I needed to make a phone call.
If you have tried to untangle cell phone earbud cords than you understand that it is not pretty and cannot be done in a hurry. As soon as I launched a frenetic speed I caught myself, thankfully. I was headed, literally and figuratively, for "discord." "Dis" cord was not going to get righted with that mindset.
I had done the work of waking in a mindful manner, with a smile and a stretch and some breath. BUT, then I was about to go "mindless." Immediately I threw myself back into bed to meditate and do some HeartMath, knowing that the breath is my the key to unlocking the present moment, relaxation and/or coherence.
I rose in a different state altogether and said to myself "lentamente."
Lentamente in Italian means "slowly" (more on this to come). I took up the cord again lentamente style and watched my fingers intricately solve the puzzle, complete focus to the mundane but suddenly rather interesting challenge. From there I mindfully made the bed, a bit of yoga and got ready for the morning walk. It was early. The new fallen gentle snow was beautiful. The world was quiet.
ASIDE - Before finishing my story let me explain that I am NOT fluent in Italian and probably not using the word lentamente correctly as far as being adverb, adjective, etc. For me, the word now embodies a lifestyle and practice set. I have been to Italy twice, took Italian while there in college, and absolutely love the country. I was watching an Amazon series on the regions of Italy two nights ago and learned that in the Region of Puglia (the heel of the boot), is a town called Lecce that is known for the gentle pace and mindful slow nature of life there. Lecce has been called "the world's most leisurely city." Being an Italy lover, I latched onto the word "lentamente" to use when I need to slow down and be more mindful, more in the moment, more alive in EACH moment. This is not about lethargy or lack of enough to do. This is about moving through the day with a mind to each encounter, each task, each challenge, activity, submersion, or exercise. Can you picture in your mind an Italian grandmother in the Tuscan countryside making pasta and sauces from scratch with precise and unhurried movements? Everything is done with a pace, attention to herbal detail and time to breathe, to feel the process with reverence, a passion for each ingredient and the final product. You may ask her, "what is in this delicious food?" And she answers, "love."
Now more mindfully set, my mental tangles carefully unwound, instead of walking the neighborhood I geared up and drove ten minutes to a nearby nature preserve for a snow hike. The mindful, peaceful start made all the difference. Instead of putting down miles with my default train of thought to past or future leading the way, I let my senses lead me to the present moment and noticed:
the feel of snow of my nose
fresh air as it hit my lungs
the quality of light
the way the snow muffled any man-made sounds and placed a peaceful hush on the woods
a bench where I could stop and write "peace" on the snow
tiny saplings that still had leaves and were adding minute bits of color to the whitewashed landscape
how I loved the pine boughs particularly with snow on them
small birds darting in the low brush along a stream
on the back side of the hill the snow clung to the branches while on the ridge and the windward side the snow was blown away and the temp was 10 degrees colder
an intricate snow pattern that dotted the trail
a large open field of snow and trees that made me feel very happy and dreaming about a more pastoral life
I am betting you have had times when you feel that sense of ease. You are paced, slower, more attached and relaxed in your movements and experiences. This is the exquisite work. With practice and education, we can purposefully call in the state more and more often so that we notice the little gems in life. really hear our neighbors/family/friends, and process hardships with adaptivity and resilience.
In the end, this was a rather un-extraordinary tale that had an extraordinary affect on my day, my work and my interactions. I pursue, as can we all, this peace and awareness, untangled clarity, flow and adaptivity in life. I am not always successful, but my success ratio is improving.
My friends (as they would say in Italy), may tomorrow be a mindful, unencumbered, "lentamente" day for you too.
**I blog not as a guru of ANY KIND but as a student of many practices. My "guruship" with natural world connection is a work in progress that I passionately study daily. I love to tell stories that describe or symbolize some aspect of the joyful, invaluable, challenging work of making the practices of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, gratitude, positivity and heart-mind coherence an integral part of life. I hope you find value also. Aimee, my business partner, is, in my estimation, a guru of much, although she would also say she is merely a teacher/student on the forever journey.