We all know the proverb, “Stop and Smell the Roses,” but how many of us actually follow it? In our fast-paced, “success”-oriented society, we rarely slow down long enough to notice the beautiful things around us. Recognizing beauty in the world is an incredibly mindful act and something each of us should do more of.
This week’s Monday Mindfulness is intended for those with busy schedules who only have time to throw in tiny moments of spirituality into their daily routine. Even if you can only do this exercise for less than a minute of your day, your awareness will begin to expand and you will start to slow down. It’s amazing just how powerful even the tiniest dose of mindfulness is!
For this exercise, you’ll need to carry around only two things—a small journal and a writing utensil. In a pinch, you can use a journaling app on your phone, but I’ve always advocated for the traditional pen and paper. There’s something a hint more sacred about it. Keep your modality of writing on you at all times possible (i.e. not in the shower—you can do this meditation there instead!). The other thing you’ll need is open eyes and keen senses. Buildinga greater visual and sensory awareness is the aim of this meditation.
And, of course, to make this accessible to those who don’t have the sense of sight or have difficulty seeing, you can modify this to solely include your other senses. In fact, if you feel something beautiful (like a warm breeze rustling by) and you can see as well, include that in this journey! Beauty comes in infinite forms, sight isn’t the only sense capable of realizing this.
How to Keep This Journal:
- Give it an intention or a name. Starting with a specific intention will help you get into the habit—like noticing the way light is cast on objects and making that your focus. You could call this your “Light journal.” The name “Beauty Journal” doesn’t have to stay—in fact, I call mine my “Sacred Journal.” Give it some conscious role in your life, before even writing in it.
- Keep this journal on you a lot, and remember it’s there (I’ve held a journal with me and totally forgotten about it before!). Maybe, if your schedule does allow it, take a walk specifically with this journal and make this a time to be extra-aware of natural beauty. You can even just sit in your a room at home and observe your surroundings, looking for commonplace beauty. When you really pay attention, you’ll notice how wondrous even the simplest of objects are.
- Set a goal of how many beautiful things you want to notice each day. Maybe it’s just one, maybe it’s ten—you do you.
- When meeting this goal, don’t go for common things. Aim for uniqueness. We all can recognize a sunset as beautiful and, if you really observe it, you can add it into this journal, but move beyond that too. Write down the things only you notice or sense. Maybe it’s a specific faint aroma, or the way a car’s headlights catch on a tree branch. These little things will increase your awareness to beauty more than the larger phenomenon.
- If you want to work on love and gratitude, don’t hesitate to include a phrase (in your mind or in your journal) about thanking the world for the beautiful sight. In the case of the reflected headlights, perhaps you could mentally thank the driver for pulling up at that moment so you had the chance to notice it, the tree for growing in that spot, your own eyes for seeing it, and the world for being capable of producing such beauty. The amount this conscious gratitude will open your heart will surprise you. It will bring a lot more compassion into your life!
This is a simple practice, but something you can really make into a unique and individual experience. Soon, you might realize that all things are beautiful—more than you can journal. Once you get to that point that it seems like you are just surrounded by beauty, you can rest assured that this practice has fully bloomed within you. Even when moving fast, you’ll be more aware than before beginning this modality of mindfulness.
Try it for a week and see how it impacts you. If you enjoy journaling, check out this blog about journaling for self-love too!