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You know how suddenly everything grows and puts on its coat of green?  Well this week in my corner of the world, spring has suddenly sprung.  Leaves are popping up all over the place, and suddenly the world looks less bare and forlorn.  It’s amazing how it happens almost overnight. 

Today on my walk, I decided to practise half an hour of mindfulness.  Boy, was that hard!  I decided to focus on listening to the sounds of nature and man around me as I walked because I thought that listening would focus my attention more powerfully than looking.  I was right about that, but had to keep metaphorically shaking myself to rein my thoughts back and just listen.  In a way, it was harder to do that than it was to spend time practising my oboe back in the day…. Practising the oboe required me to think in a disciplined way.  Listening to nature required me not to think – just to listen and appreciate the sounds I was hearing.  Not to think about them but just to note them.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but the experience made me determined that each day I must dedicate some time just to listening to sounds. 

We all listen to our minds constantly, and if you’ve the kind of job, or mind, that likes to analyse or imagine, then the time that we spend in our minds is massive.  I would say that the time I spend in my head is over 90% of the total time that I am conscious!  Yikes!  No wonder trying just to suspend thinking was hard!  It’s like being a tea-addict – it requires conscious thought not to go and put the kettle on for another cuppa.  But I would never have realised that it would require conscious thought not to think!! Hopefully practice will make it easier to do. 

On a slightly different vein, I bought my Dad a book for his birthday.  It’s called The Book of Idle Pleasures and is edited by Dan Kieran and Tom Hodgkinson.  Dad is trying his hand at this thing called retirement.  He’s a very young 79 this birthday and has been working 7 days a week in my brother’s company for the last 4 years.  It helped him tremendously when Mum died in 2007, but now is the time to rein back a little and only work for a couple of days a week so that he can begin to enjoy his time to himself.  To give him a little help and a few suggestions along the way, this book is full of short ideas such as ‘Reclining on Top Deck of the Bus’, ‘Doodling’, ‘Whittling’, ‘Lying in a Hammock’, ‘Walking Back Home Drunk’ – although I don’t think Dad will go for that last one, somehow!!  The contributors write for The Idler, a magazine ‘that celebrates freedom, fun and the fine art of doing nothing.’  Their reason for writing the book – “We want to comfort and inspire you with philosophy, satire and reflection, as well as giving practical information to help in the quest for the idle life”. 

Sounds like a great idea to me!