The art of everyday living-

I am a simple person with simple habits and simple needs. But the dissatisfaction I have been feeling baffles me. I find depth and meaning in all activities and all are important to me but of late I have found that I have lost the art of them... The simplest of life's offerings can have the most profound enjoyment for me if only I will let them. My friend Tina once called me very effervescent, because, as she stated-
"Shahnaz a simple person can describe a trip to the store and it is a trip to the store. When you describe a trip to the store, it is an adventure, an event. I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what happens next..."
She made that observation when we were both 19, sitting sipping on cokes and having chat-samosas at ICG!

Hmmmm by that description I guess I am and can again be my own effervescent self again. Everything is an event to me! Or used to be...(it still is sometimes when it is a happy/big/enjoyable event...) Why shouldn't all of them be "events" again?  Oh well- in my effort at simplicity (or complexity) I have set goals to enjoy the art of everyday living-

Here are some of my favorite arts-

I know, I know, it sounds funny but really, trust me, it works!
I recently attended a compassion fatigue seminar. I walked in a tad late into the conference room full of attendees to be greeted by a delightful creature-Native American- in the most exquisite jewellery. What made her exquisite was not her "nativeness" but the pride with which she carried it. It was magnificent and breathtaking to behold, this short little woman in her late 50s or early 60s who had a presence and a lot of "SWAG"! Dr. Showalter was her name, and she gave me my swag back. She taught me how to do this by simply breathing.

Her seminar made me come to the awareness of how often I walk around reactive as opposed to responsive. The simple act of deep breathing and conscious relaxing of my Psoas muscles can successfully disengage my sympathetic nervous system (fight-flight-freeze response) and rengage my parasympathetic nervous sytem (rest-digest mode). And voila! reactivity diminished and respone mode engaged.

So yes folks- I very deliberately practice the art of breathing...

To most- it is an exercise. To me it is an art form and a way of life. Yoga teaaches me how to breathe in difficult positions of extreme stress and discomfort with the return of deep and satisfying relaxation at the end. It teaches self control and delaying gratification. It reminds me I know how to handle any difficult situation or experience that comes my way. It is a good reference point that trouble/stress/sadness is temporary and will eventually pass. Just breathe through it to get to the other end.

Yup, plain simple tea- In Japan it is an elaborate art form, a ceremony. Tea is an exercise in mindfulness and gratitude. A simple act of preparing and drinking tea engages all your senses. Done in a mindful manner it finetunes your focus into the present- the moment where LIFE is actually taking place...not the past which is gone and done with, not the future which is not here yet, but rather the HERE and the NOW- which is where life is actually happening. i have noticed it helps reduce my anxiety by slowing down my frenzied mind.

Doesn't take a lot and it's not too hard to do, but of late, I have forgotten to do it. I was reminded one day when a client observed that I had a stern look on my face. (This was the day before the compassion fatigue seminar btw! lol... and I guess I was in severe fatigue :P) The same sentiment had been echoed by my child too- "Mom why aren't you smiling? I guess life and stress had worn me down (sad excuses). So I corrected that by plastering one on my face (fake at first) but then a strange thing happened. It felt good! Even the fake one made me feel better and before I knew it I was smiling for real. Same goes for laughter. Apparently there are even groups of people who get together and form laughing groups and guffaw for no good reason! Why you ask? Because it makes you feel good. Seriously folks this is science. Don't believe me? Google it and Dr. Goodheart- she has been researching it and teaching it since the 70s... (you even have phone laughter conferences)

I do believe I take sight for granted! So much so in fact, that I don't even "see" things anymore. I noticed that I used to not be this way, but this past year I have become this more and more. The color of the walls, the leaves on a tree, my car, the sky, everything? I miss it all... so jaded have I grown to be and so engrossed in my head and thoughts and plans and tasks that I do not pause long enough to absorb, experience and enjoy what my eyes behold. The wall color of my office is soothing. The sunlight inviting. The dust specks on my monitor are universes in and of themselves. The minute I see this- I am slowly embedded into a state of awareness of rhythm, of my place and my part in a bigger symphony in tune with my surroundings- all a part of the orchestra of the universe.

It is my understanding that the average human inhales rather that eats their food- sometimes in a car while driving and applying make up, or at their desk at work, or while staring at a TV screen. Soem don't even take a minute to sit. Most can do it while on the move or standing in front of the fridge (door open!). Yes food is something that I have set goals to turn back into an art in my life. In fact research shows that our body absorbs more nutrients from the foods that we eat when we are enjoying our meal and not scarfing it down.

Humans are social creatures and true happiness comes from relationships and not objects. In refining the art of relating in my life I have decided to be 100% present and fully engaged with the people that I am relating to at that exact moment. be they friends, strangers, liked or not! This will mean better relationships for me (it will also mean more intense disagreements, I fear, since each will have my full attention..ahem..tongue in cheek!)

I will add more and keep you updated!