Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Taking a Step Back

Reading an article on Mindfulness the other day by Suryacitta Malcolm Smith, author of Happiness and How it Happens made me think that some of us, and I'm really thinking about fellow mums here, might have been lucky enough to receive flowers this weekend as part of Mother's Day.

We may have received a hand tied bouquet which required us to do very little as the florist had already worked their magic on creating a pleasing, harmonious, stunning display of complimenting well arranged blooms.

We may have received stunning seasonal flowers such as cheery, sunny daffodils or tall elegant colourful tulips which needed us to do the arranging in our chosen vase.  

In the article Surycitta writes about watching his wife arranging flowers in preparation for a Mindfulness Retreat he was leading recently in Leicestershire.

"What she did was fiddle with the flowers, then stand back. She would again fiddle with the flowers and again stand back. She did this four or five times." 
Suryacitta Malcolm Smith
Surycitta writes about how his wife "fiddled" (his word not mine) with the detail of the flowers, closely looking at how the flowers fell and how they worked next to each other.  He goes on to draw the comparison about how his wife fiddled with the detail of the flowers and the how we live our lives.  Obviously we have to be involved in the detail of our lives; sending emails at work, producing reports in the expected format to the required deadline, picking up the children from school, delivering them to their after school clubs with the right equipment, ensuring the fridge is stocked, the washing is done and the car is booked in for it's MOT...the list goes on and on....  All are the details of our lives and the things we do in the moment.
So whats this got to do with mindfulness?
Suryacitta went on to explain that as well as concentrating on the detail of the flowers, his wife repeatedly stopped fiddling and stepped back to look at the flowers as a whole arrangement. The stepping back gave her a different view point and was just as important as the fiddling with the individual blooms; the detail. 
"I think as a culture we value the doing, the fiddling and engaging with the detail, more than the standing back, and just being.
This standing back is what mindfulness allows us to do. It allows us to see our lives and the way we are living from a different perspective. If we don't develop this ability to stand back we can easily get lost in the detail of living and not really get to see what is going on."
Suryacitta Malcolm Smith

The difficulty with the standing back is that it can feel like we're doing nothing and when we know we have a 101 things to get done, doing nothing feels like a very uncomfortable option.  Right?  But sometimes we can get too bogged down in the detail and fall into the trap of doing things just because without taking that step back and and just looking at what we're doing from a different angle, a different perspective.  It might just give us some clarity, ideas, a better way forward which we might have other wise missed.

Surycitta's full article which is well worth a read can be found here. Here at Work Smart Work Savvy HQ, we plan to visit Mindfulness in more detail soon.

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