Several years ago, I was on a walk and bumped into a friend who was a marathon runner. I had never seen this man walk anywhere before and soon learned that all the years of running had worn his knee’s out. We chit chatted a bit and then he said something that to this day, has stuck with me – “I didn’t realize how much I missed when running.” He continued, telling me about sites in our small town, that he had not noticed before.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I began to consciously slow down my marathon lifestyle, that his words really hit home. I’m not a runner, but every time I went for a walk, it was for exercise. In fact, everything I did, was about accomplishing something, which meant my body and my mind, were always moving fast (and missing a lot).
One of my customers at my former nutrition store, was a meta meditation teacher. I was intrigued, so I gave it a try. I didn’t stick with it for too long, but long enough to learn three questions that I use when I catch my mind wandering into the future, or past.
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you feel?
This is how it works…
One morning on my drive to work, with my mind already in high gear thinking about all I needed to accomplish and lo and behold, I remembered these questions – paused and began to take notice.
What I saw was a tree with leaves dancing in the wind. What I heard was the gentle hum of the engine, and what I felt was peace. That’s all it took to bring me back to the present and arrive for my workday relaxed, calm and peaceful.
By using these questions to short-circuit my monkey mind, like my runner friend, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. The color of the plants, the sounds of birds and a very old log cabin (20 years driving the same road in my small town – I had never noticed the cabin).
On a trip to New York City, feeling overloaded from an intense workshop and craving the stillness and quiet that my home in the woods provides, I learned a valuable lesson – it doesn’t matter what environment you are in – when you use these three questions, you can disconnect from tension and a mind running amok, even in the middle of a busy, noisy city.
As I wandered the city streets, the noise in my head dissipated. What I saw, as the sun began to set, was a beautiful orange glow dancing on the buildings. I felt a gentle comforting breeze warming my skin and then I heard music and followed the sound – a grand piano had been moved into to the center of Washington Park. Amazing!
Three experiences, that without these questions, would have left me stuck running in the past and future of my marathon mind – missing the present moment beauty around me.
Want to give it a try?
Right now – hit the pause button and ask…
What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel?
Do you think these questions will help you short-circuit monkey mind? Post your comment below.