Friday, February 04, 2011

Mindfulness and the iPhone

You might remember that a couple of years ago, I made a new year's resolution to try to live a more mindful life--placing myself in, and appreciating, the present moment. It's hard for me (isn't it for you, too?) because I'm one of those "someday, when....(fill in milestone life event here: marriage, children, home ownership, dream career...) life will be perfect..." types of people who is constantly waiting on some as of yet unfulfilled expectation to make my life complete.

I gave it a noble try that year, at least at the beginning, piling up my collection of Thich Nat Hahn books by my bed, reading his beautiful words in the morning and at night, spending those times appreciating the simple fact of my being, or the feel of the cat's purring body against my leg, or the sound of Ethan's gentle he's-still-a-baby-when-he's-asleep breath rising and falling next to me. And I tried a daily practice of including a quote about living a mindful life in my blog to set my purpose for the day. But.

In between those fleeting moments of mindfulness, I found myself, like everyone else, caught up in getting from one moment to the next, heading off one tantrum or another, trying to get to where we needed to be, gnashing my teeth at drivers on the highway or avoiding the news because it was just all too much.

So that didn't quite work out so well, and eventually, because I was starting to stress out about how I wasn't being super zen-y and mindful, it was easier to just put the Thich Nhat Hahn books back on the shelf, delete the copy box from my blog where I'd been writing quotes about mindfulness, and hop back on the just-getting-by treadmill that lets all the little moments slip by unnoticed.

Lately though, I've started to notice a shift in my perspective and how I am interacting with my day and my life. Thanks to my iPhone. First I'll say there are a lot of things I don't like about our smart phone culture. There's the whole propensity to become sucked in and be the exact opposite of mindful--checking Facebook eleventy billion times an hour, entire conversations carried on by text message where the sound of another human voice is never experienced, my child wanting to spend hours sucked into a world of Angry Birds hurtling themselves via sling shot toward smug pigs in ridiculously constructed and nearly indestructible hide-outs. It's not ideal, I realize, and in so many ways saps the mindfulness right out of our lives.

But I've noticed lately that I have my camera function open a lot. Almost all the time. And I find that I am looking around my life, slowing down, my eyes open and aware, looking for beauty, or uniqueness, or joy, for moments that are asking to be captured. And I've been taking pictures of them. Not fancy pictures (although I'm finding there are countless editing apps with funky filters that make things look much groovier than they might be otherwise), nothing you'd blow up and frame; just a quick click to capture whatever it was that caught my eye or made me smile.

I've become so much more aware of the world around me, and my space in it, as I walk through downtown, play with Ethan, wander through shops, etc. Instead of just moving straight ahead, eyes focused on a point in front of me, I find myself moving more slowly, looking at the world around me, taking deeper breaths, taking pictures. It is a really lovely thing. And at the end of the day, I have a record in images of what my day was, a reflection of the life I'm living.


Body Pump--weight lifting to techno music. Oh, the burn...

Echo is not entirely pleased with this cuddle, but he takes what he can get...

Trip to the neighborhood garden store--creepy-eyed garden fairy

Ethan admiring a washed out garden gnome...

Ethan is also quite the iPhone photog; he took this one of the ceramic sun I am currently eyeing for our front porch.

In a moment of vanity-related mindfulness, I marveled at the vast expanse that is my forehead

And then we painted bird houses...
Guess who did which?


Evidence of my restraint at aforementioned garden store--I bought only one pot & one plant, a pretty little Tea Tree.

new birdfeeder

As the sun was going down, Ethan decided it was time to dance a little bit to stay warm. While I don't have the benefit of sharing this with you via video, please note my son's innate ability to dance like Elaine Bennis. I have no idea how he knows the dance, but he does it perfectly.

sun setting through the tree (thank you, caption obvious caption...)

Ethan making some musical magic with one of the old timey street lights on our street.

funky detail on the base of our street light. Never noticed it before yesterday evening.

All those little tiny nubs sticking out of the new branches? Leaves budding.


Bethany I. said...

I've seen that fairy somewhere before...:

*Twilight Zone theme plays*

Amy said...

Your hair looks FABULOUS!!!!!

gringa said...

That seems to be a really wonderful day and what a wonderful idea to capture so much... love the post -- and the pictures...sort of making the "ordinary" extraordinary...

urban muser said...

i like your iphone pics!

MamaBear said...

LOVE the Elaine Benes dance pics!!

lonek8 said...

that last photo is amazing! I am so jealous of your weather - it is all gray and cold and gray and icky here. makes taking photos no fun at all.

ps: we totally have that sweatshirt too!