The Joy of the Everyday: Finding Magic in Micro-Moments
By Julie Schoen
As the weather warms up and tempts me out of my winter hibernation, I’ve found myself enjoying a new perspective, both literally and figuratively. Now comfortably able to sit outside on my back patio, I’ve been soaking up sun and sights, admiring the fresh growth on the trumpet vines, the bubbling water in the turquoise fountain, the buds on the trees transitioning to green leaves. Its beauty, immediate and inarguably vibrant, struck me this morning as I was reminded of how much I complained about this exact same patio in the winter.
“It’s so gray and boring out here,” I told my husband, showing him a thousand pictures of ideas for decks, outdoor rugs, and new planters. “I hate this part of our yard!” I would plead as he questioned the price or the necessity of any of the things I had determined the only way to possibly “revive” this space.
But, as life would have it, I never got around to those ideas. And, today, as I sat outside completely enjoying the beauty, I realized that all of the things I disliked, the gray cement, the unruly garden bed, the cracked wall, were all still there. They hadn’t disappeared or miraculously fixed themselves – the only thing that had changed was my focus, my perspective.
It’s amazing to me how much of what we experience in life is nothing more than a perception. “Reality” is a very loose, if not non-existent, concept, but one that we’re so passionate to defend and so altered by from moment to moment. In fact, we’re so tethered to this idea of “our reality” that we have the power to either destroy or create another “reality” as a by-product. Our minds really are the most powerful technology ever made.
The Power of Your Mind and What to Do with It
What you think directly alters what you perceive. There’s no way around it. How can one day be wonderful and the next day so disappointing or horrible? After all, the majority of our day-to-day really doesn’t change that much thatquickly. The majority of our “bad” days are comprised of a few very isolated events that we choose to focus on, putting all of our energy into dissecting and replaying them over and over, giving them more and more power every time we reincarnate them through our mind’s eye or voice.
The same is true, then, for our “good” days, too. While plenty of potentially “bad” things also happen on these days, the only reason they’re different is because we’re highlighting what we’re perceiving as good, posting that specific story to the top of our mind’s active feed.
When you start to realize how powerful your brain is, you begin to see the potential you have to control your life. The concept is both incredibly liberating and totally terrifying. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s in knowing that you’re responsible for your life that you begin to find your freedom.
Making Magic with Life’s Micro-Moments
Harnessing the power of your mind allows you to re-frame the everyday moments in your life. If you practice yoga, chances are you’ve at some point heard a teacher or instructor say something along the lines of, “This is a brand new sun salutation” or, “Notice the difference between this Down Dog and your first.” One of the beautiful things about being consistent and dedicated to a yoga practice is that you start to see firsthand how fascinating something as simple as noticing your hamstring open or recognizing an ease in your shoulders you haven’t felt before. The poses, the sequences, a lot of yoga is the same thing over and over, and yet we can come back with enthusiasm and interest – and for decades.
So how is a routine yoga practice different than our other routines in life? How can we stay so engaged with it, but so disengaged when it comes to something “mundane” like doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or making a meal?
In my experience, it really does seem like all signs point back to perception. Yoga is fascinating and spiritual because we perceive it to be. We’ve been taught by our teachers, even by mainstream media, that it is. Something like doing the dishes, however, hasn’t been “sold” to us as an opportunity to meditate or to reflect, so we don’t believe that it is. Commercials, family, friends, everyone talks about doing the dishes as a “chore,” a tedious task that we just have to suffer through and then complain about later.
As much as our brains are powerful, they are also very easily influenced, which is how we find ourselves repeating patterns even when we don’t like them.
And, of course, it’s not just the dishes. Every day is filled with these micro-moments and, for the most part, we choose to either move through them as quickly as possible or, even worse, to complain about them. The underlying danger of all of this is, of course, that if every day is filled with these moments, then it’s these moments that make up the bulk of our life; if we miss out on them, aren’t we missing out on life?
Tips for Magic Making
Whether you find yourself struggling to enjoy daily tasks, or struggling to find the joy in life in general, there are specific things you can start doing right now to change your perception.
- Set an intention.There’s a reason why many yoga practices start with some sort of intention setting or invocation – it signals to your brain that it’s time to pay attention. Next time you’re about to embark on a “chore,” whether it’s commuting to work or putting away your children’s toys, pause for a moment and be intentional about being present. Ask your mind to join you before you start and, while you might go a little slower, this intention setting is an immediate way to shift your perception.
- Don’t tune out.We’ve become so accustomed to tuning out, to “numbing” ourselves from what’s in front of us, that it will feel strange at first. But, isn’t it just as strange to be so interested in your calf muscle in warrior one? Rather than instantly turning on a podcast or picking up the phone, can you allow yourself to be completely present? What can you notice that would normally be overlooked? And, regardless if you discover something “good” or “bad,” can you begin to look at these everyday tasks with importance and respect, honoring what you find just as you would honor sensations and thoughts in meditation or on your yoga mat?
- Question conditioning.A lot of learning to find magic in these micro moments comes from re-learning how to perceive them. Why is gardening elevated above vacuuming? Why is driving no longer as fun as it was when you got the keys to your first car? Why are some things on your to-do list clumped into bucket categories, like “Grocery Shopping,” while others are specific, “Pick Out an Outfit for Date Night”? The more you allow yourself to be inquisitive, the more likely it is that not only will you become present in your actions, but you’ll also start to find yourself “freed” from old thought patterns and cultural conditioning.
You can perceive beauty in everything and, by training your mind to seek it, you begin to unveil a world that is magical, and one that you get to be fully alive and present in.
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