The Art of Awareness

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with awareness. Most of us are running through our days on autopilot. It's so easy for us to get caught up in our to do's, overwhelmed by our calendars and bogged down by our obligations in a mindless state. But in all of that frenzy, what are we missing? We're looking down at our phones and missing the wonders of the world in front of us. We're rushing from one place to the next, skipping over the present as much as we can. 

Would you have stopped to hear the music?

Do you know the Joshua Bell story in the Washington DC subway station?  It's a remarkable example of how harried and clueless we truly are to the beauty right smack dab in front of us. Over one thousand people rushed past one of the world's most incredible musicians as he played in a Washington DC subway station for over 45 minutes.  A crowd never gathered.  Only a few slowed their gait long enough to drop in a buck or two.  He was recognized at the very end of the experiment, but the results were crazy.  Hardly anybody stopped to hear the music.  He plays sold out shows in concert halls on a priceless instrument, but when dressed in a ball cap in the subway station, he's barely given a glance.   

So be on the lookout for unexpected beauty amidst your daily routine.  I was once treated to an unexpected piano concert while writing blog posts for clients at my local library.  I am mildly obsessed with street piano projects where pianos are dropped in random parks or bus stations, decorated by artists and played on by anyone who wishes.  Whenever I travel, I take at least one morning to do a photo walk. I've taken photos of trash receptacles, dilapidated buildings, and sewer covers.  Art is everywhere.

While I notice plenty, I missed this synchronous bus for years. For years this bus was parked in the alley behind my restaurant. I drove by the bus millions of times. I was always entering the alley from the rear of the bus, so I never noticed the front of it. One day, I was riding shotgun with my husband driving us in a rain storm as we were headed home. He was going through the alley the opposite way I normally had driven. I finally noticed that the bus said True North on the front. True North had been a favorite metaphor of mine from a coach training I had done. Finding one's true north was quite symbolic and integral to the course. Yet I had never noticed that the True North bus was parked right outside my restaurant. Oh irony - how you slay me. It's one of my most favorite photos and shortly after I took the photo the bus was removed from the alley. So this savoring moment hangs in my studio. I've long since left the restaurant business and love having this reminder of my heart's compass always leading me to True North. 

The Life Lens

1) Go to a museum.  Linger at an art gallery. Enjoy an impromptu street performance. Lay down in the grass and listen to an opera on your iphone.  Go to a poetry reading at an indie bookstore.  Admire the creativity in street art. Decorate the sidewalk with chalk. Make a rock cairn. Draw in the snow. Seek out art in the every day and see how it fills your soul. 

2) Take the long way home. Go a different route than usual. Or drive the same route at a different time. Notice the difference in light or clouds. 

3) Take a picture of the same subject for several days in a row at different times of the day. And different angles. 

4) Do a ceiling selfie. Put your iphone on selfie mode and point it towards the ceiling. Walk around as if you're walking on the ceiling. Notice interesting angles and views and shoot whatever looks interesting. You can also do this with a hand mirror to get your creative juices flowing. 

Enjoy the feast. Notice the world around you.  
Dig In.  

Bon Appetit.