My kind promise for this month is “to embrace the moment.”

This is a simple idea and a week of observation tells me that I don’t often do it. I spend my mental time in three places:

  • Concentration/absorption in the task of the moment – this might be mistaken for mindfulness but because of its unconscious nature, I don’t think it counts. On the other hand, it is focused in the present moment, so that’s of some value.
  • Worrying about the future – my life is in transition at work. My husband and has been offered a job in California. My health is declining. It’s really easy for me to get caught in imagining what might be next and how I might cope.
  • Here and now – I visit the here and now for moments when I’m meditating, for moments when I’m painting, for moments when I am interacting with other people. This is the part of life I am trying to expand this month. It is a conscious appreciation of what’s going on right now.

Wednesday afternoon I left the house and visited the micro-wood across the street. Underneath the high-voltage power lines, grasses and scrub trees are allowed to grow. A drainage pond from a nearby apartment complex butts against the powerline corridor. A couple of fine Norway pine trees lean into the corridor from a nearby fenced suburban yard. This is the nature micronutrient that is within my wheelchair-accessible circumference.

I sat beneath the pine branches and watched a couple of male mallards squabbling in the pond. When the losing duck flew away and calm returned I became conscious of a popping sound. I thought the squirrel or bird must be in the pine tree, but I didn’t see any creatures. I decided the tree must be making the sounds.

When I got home, I googled popping pine trees and discovered that pine cones make that noise as they open. I returned yesterday to the same spot for another serenade.

Somehow I associate mindfulness with non-thinking. I try to focus on my breath and let go of anything else. I am discovering that another way to make that switch in consciousness is through my senses. Focusing on the smell of the pine, the sound of the pops, the caress of the breeze, I return to the here and now.

I intend to practice this month by taking a breath and focusing on my sensory experience in the moment and remembering the promise: embrace this moment.

When I looked at the list of promises last month, I said to myself “oh yes: next month is mindfulness.” Earlier this week, I looked up the exact phrase I had used, thinking I needed to add a modifier. It’s there: embrace.

I am asking myself not only to be here, in this moment. I am also inviting myself to open my heart to what is – to greet it – and the me of this moment – with tenderness.