Saturday, July 17, 2010

365 Days of Mindfulness

This summer I've been thinking about travel. Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to travel together with family and friends, share an experience, create common experiences that can last a lifetime, and deepen and nourish relationships. Vacations can be about learning something new (traveling to historic spots, visiting museums, or learning a new hobby) or about play (getting away from it all at the beach, unplugging from the electronic devices and sleeping under the open sky, or sitting under in a comfortable chair reading a good book).

Vacations can be long or short. They can be far or close to home. Sometimes a vacation might even take the form of a mini-mental vacation. In DBT, one set of skills that are taught are those that IMPROVE the  moment. Improve is an acronym, and the v is for a mini vacation.

Overwhelmed by feelings? At the end of your rope? Try taking a mini-vacation. Close your eyes, use your imagination to fantasize what an ideal peaceful place would be. Perhaps it's a beach, a mountain top, or your favorite comfortable chair. Whatever the case is, a few moments spent on a mini-vacation there helps us slow down and think before we react rather than reacting without thinking.

There is a place near where I live which is an ideal place for me to think about when I take a mini-mental vacation. The local reservoir is a generally peaceful place. Neighbors walk their dogs there. A group of dedicated men and women tend to an ever-growing butterfly garden. Despite being in the middle of an urban environment, birds flock, deer roam, and I can let the natural environment nourish and recharge me when I'm tired, crabby, or down.

I've decided a few days ago that I'm going to start a little project for myself. It's a cross between a mini-vacation, a mindfulness practice, and a photography project. Maggie and I generally go for a walk every morning. Rain or shine, cold or hot, we'll start our day with a few trips around the local reservoir. We've done this for a year now. It's been enjoyable for both of us. I've met lots of neighbors, learned all the local gossip, watched flowers blossom and wither, and seen the seasons change.

I got to thinking that it would be interesting to spend a moment in the same spot every day for a year. What would it be to stand and watch the seasons change? What would I learn from taking a moment to observe every day?

Off to the right I'm adding a slide show widget where I'll upload the pictures as I go along. It's apparently going to take awhile for the slideshow to work: I'm having a few technical difficulties here on Blogger. The images will all be as I see them: no photoshopping, cropping, or editing. In the meantime, while we are waiting for my difficulties to be solved, here is day one of the 365 Days of Mindfulness project. I took the image on July 12, 2010.

What do you notice as the images change? Perhaps you are inspired to do something similar. If you are, make a comment here or send me an e-mail and share what you discover.


  1. I have three dogs. Ziggy, Furby and Bailey. Bailey is my daughters dog, but since she had my grand-daughter and moved to an apartment with her boyfriend, Bailey stayed with me. Bailey and I would go to the forest, which is across the road from me, and go for walks. Cold, hot, snow, rain. Bailey loved her walks. I go for the 12 mile bike ride thru the forest and its praires. It is a beautiful area full of life - birds, owls, hawks, foxes, racoons and deers. I love it so. But as the seasons change, so does the forest and prairie. The colors, the sounds of the forest all change also. What was a happy spring with so many sounds of the critters, seems to quiet a little in the summer's heat. In fall, the skies are filled with migrating birds and honks, it is amazing. Bailey is now 12 years old and has got problems with her back legs. She can not stand for long so we can not go for walks anymore. I do miss that so much, miss the closeness that her and I shared with the peacefulness of the forest.

  2. Thanks for posting this comment, Mary. What a beautiful image you created--riding for miles through the forest filled with all sorts of flora and fauna! What wonderful memories you and Bailey have together sharing the changes of the seasons.