Fiona writes: Paying attention is good for us.
When we pay attention to the world around us, we feel more engaged with life. We really notice what is around us, and we’re more likely to enjoy it. We feel more ‘awake’. When we pay attention to other people, we get to know them better, and we care about them more. A natural desire to help them arises.
Paying attention is very difficult.
Our minds are often scattered. We go through lists of things-to-be-done. We have a million and one worries. We have deeply ingrained habits of drifting off into our fantasy worlds, where we win the lottery and everything is easy.
This is how it is for me, anyway. I have great intentions about being mindful, and then before I know it another day has disappeared.
Myself and Kaspa are Pureland Buddhists, and every morning we recite a verse in our little morning service.
“Time has passed with the swiftness of light. It is already morning. Impermanence rushes upon us every moment, Mara follows every step. Oh practitioners of the way, strive diligently! Attain nirvana!”
Every morning, as I say these words, I think to myself, “Yes, I can’t believe it’s already morning – another day gone already!” Time ticks on. As the character Ferris Bueller noted in the film ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
I do something every single day that helps me to stop and look around, and that helps me to pay attention. I write a small stone.
A small stone is a short piece of writing which describes something as precisely as possible. It can be in verse (like a poem), or it can simply be a sentence or two.
There are three simple steps to creating a small stone.
- Keep your ears, eyes, nose, fingers, taste-buds and mind open.
- Observe something closely.
- Write it down.
A small stone might be a description of a pink sunset, or the noise of your cat’s rumbling purr. It might be the sheen of a bright green apple under your fingertips, or an overheard snippet of conversation about rock-climbing.
The most important part of writing small stones is noticing them in the first place. They encourage us to look outside ourselves, and to notice what’s around us. If we can remember to pause in the middle of our busy days, small stones will appear to us. The quote at the top from Osho sums this up perfectly:
“Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.” ~Osho
If you relax, small stones will appear all around you.
The sound of a blackbird singing over the whoosh of the traffic. A single delicious sip of sweet hot tea. The red colour of the bike in next door’s garden – bright as a berry. The crumbling texture of the bricks in the garden wall.
Writing a small stone every day means that I pay attention to at least ONE thing every day. Like Ferris Bueller, I stop and look around, so I don’t miss life as it whizzes past.
Can you do the same?
Do post your small stones in the comments section below. I look forward to reading them! Here are a few more examples to get you started…
garlic bulbs poke up their long pale tongues, tasting the bright spring air
flickering candle in the hearth
steady flame on the shrine
yellow streetlamp in a dark morning sky
the shining golden cheek of the Buddha
the vet listens to his heart, looks into his throat, feels the shape of his body through his fur all the way down his length. he is healthy, for now.
the moon is so transparent you could slip a thumb-nail under the edge and peel it from the sky
woodpigeon croons me a morning lovesong
maroon and dull-brown hedges like an overgrown beard
black birds gather in the tops of the trees
a woman limps her way up the hill slowly, slowly
If you want to try writing small stones and you”d like a head-start, have a look at Kaspa’s free seven step ‘experience‘.