One afternoon over this last weekend, I sat outside The Flying Goose Café in the wonderful antiques centre in my village, with Aunty Ann; my other-half’s lovely Aunt. The café offered me welcome respite from trying to walk with the pain and difficulty caused by Parkinson’s. We sat outside, in the rear garden area of the antiques centre and enjoyed a cup of coffee each. We initially sat at a little round table for two that was, along with its two chairs, decorated in pretty orange and white mosaic tiles before moving to another table in the sunshine. The sky occasionally moved between a rich, golden sunshine to a rather pregnant blue-grey cloudscape that hinted at the storm that would descend upon us later in the afternoon.
We were ‘people-watching’; simply enjoying being ‘present’ in the ‘here and now’ by taking time to observe what was going on around us. A few locals, and a few obvious tourists to my beautiful village, made their way around the antiques centre and into the little terrace of brightly painted beach huts in the rear garden; each hut itself serving as a treasure trove of items once coveted. As we savoured the aroma of our coffee, we noticed that how people experience their time at the antiques centre was actually very interesting; it revealed something of the nature and behaviour of the people we observed.
I was intrigued by those visitors who seemed to march around the antiques centre, at speed, as if in a rush to get through it all before having to be somewhere else. These people missed so much of the atmosphere, the beauty and the mystery of all that can be found in the antiques centre. These were the people who, invariably, marched on alone.
Others, by comparison, took their time to explore whole shelves, dusty corners and nooks as if delighting in the indulgence of some form of guilty pleasure. These were mostly relaxed looking individuals who could almost visibly be seen to be swept along by the imagined stories of whichever object they beheld; objects whose provenance was no doubt part of some noble or romantic fable. Often, these people would be in a couple or in a small group; each sharing magical moments of wonder, smiles, gasps of enjoyment or the excited ‘oohs and ahs’ of simply enjoying sharing the discovery of potential treasures.
It was clear that the type of people who enjoyed taking their time to explore, appeared more relaxed, more interested and happier while those who marched alone seemed to frown, looked ill at ease and in some way restless. To me, the joy of being in a venue like this is all about slowing down, thinking, reflecting, observing and imagining. It’s a bit like getting lost in a good book; each item and object having been part of the story of whoever once possessed them.
Which type of person are you? I am definitely one who would happily spend hours exploring the vast array of items and imagining their history, who would take an age to pour over the many rare and interesting books and who would take time to chat and have a chuckle with familiar villagers and random tourist, alike.
Importantly, give some thought as to why you might be the type to march on, at speed; not stopping to explore or examine, not stopping to chat, not taking time to share in something that may have meaning to you or to the person, or people, with you. What might you be missing? From interesting things to see, to learning about what people around you chuckle at, reminisce over or wonder at and from just enjoying your five senses ‘in the moment’; what you may hear, see, smell, touch or taste. The five senses enable us to experience each moment in depth. It is how we connect with our world and our senses enrich our memories and our understanding. They help us to communicate and relate. They help us to share. Think how it is for some who are impaired in some way; denied one or some of their five senses. What would they give to be able to just stop for a precious minute to experience all five senses?
Why are some people ‘on to the next thing’ rather than just slowing down, or stopping, to experience a minute as a slow period of time that offers quality, rather than a hastily, rushed and frantic minute that feels like it has gone in seconds? These people are usually far more stressed. When we speed up, our sense of time speeds up. When we slow down, it is as if we can slow time down, for we become ‘mindful’ of what we are experiencing and we can savour the moment. A minute can become something of value and may hold a long-treasured experience, if we just slow down to fully experience our minute with all of our senses.
To learn what this means in practice, just ‘stop’. Take a look at your watch and, while remaining completely still while one minute passes, take a moment to experience some or all of your five senses. In that one minute:
- What can you see around you? What is that like?
- What can you hear? What does that make you feel?
- What are you touching? What are the textures?
- Is there something you are tasting? Do you like the taste?
- What can you smell? Does that trigger any memories?
One minute becomes something greater, a deeper and more meaningful time of experience and connection. That one minute, now reflected on in relation to your senses, becomes something of quality and value.
If you are interested in the subject of ‘mindfulness’ or if you simply want to share your experience of ‘slowing time down’ to appreciate the quality of being ‘in the present’, please do leave a comment below. Mindfulness exercises are a great way to de-stress, as we move away from thoughts of troubles past or of anxieties about the future. Enjoying the full experience of the present moment is where we can ‘simply be’.