Recently, I stopped living from a place of what was familiar by spending a few moments of my day walking barefoot in the grass. The sun was out, time was not an issue, and the grass looked overly inviting. So I indulged. Immediately, my body was flooded with the simple thought of how damn good it feels to be barefootâ€”moist, warm, squishy earth, tickling blades of grass between toesâ€¦ahhhh, I have been missing out! But as a creature of habit, I know that familiar is safe and I can’t recall the last time I walked barefoot! Familiar offers comfort, and at the same time has held me back from venturing into new and unfamiliar terrain that may create a few challenges, but ultimately enhance my path of joy, meaning and connection. It is time to get out of my own way; starting with a simple stepâ€¦in the grass.
There are dirt roads, winding curves, graveled paths, mountainous treks, leisure trails, and paths yet to be made; we have an ability to choose which one to travel. As Robert Frost describes in The Road Not Taken, â€œI took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.â€ Why is it that majority of the time I choose the accustomed, most strenuous, or frequently traveled? Is fear, guilt, comfort, or doubt really holding me back?
Days spent entrenched in the daily grind result in life going into autopilot. How can I truly be efficient, productive, happy, and authentically genuine when checked out and going through the motions? This is not living; it is a syndrome we all get caught up in resulting in unsatisfying careers, relationships, patterns and creators of our own suffering. Sound familiar?
Catching myself in destructive patterns and self-sabotage has created a gateway of awareness to live a meaningful life by introducing snippets of mindfulness to daily interactions. When I choose to be conscious of my actions, words, thoughts, and breath, there is a trigger affect that makes me check into the nexus of action and engagement. With a sense of awareness, I can actually feel what is happening with my body when I am anxious, tired, stressed, angry, or fearful. By being connected and aware of sensations, I gain a moment to find pause, and identify what I really need in that specific moment.
The body has an internal climate that alters due to the changes and circumstances in our external world. We experience sensations â€“ tense, light, hot, cold, dry, moist, fluid, still, hard, soft, etc. that result from triggers of daily living. Usually, the sensations are overlooked and our emotions operate on thought versus what the body is actually feeling, or we try to control the outcome. By navigating on imagined thoughts that have yet to even play out, operating from a stem of strict beliefs, or familiar habit patterns, we are robbed of what it means to be in the truest moments of experience. And yes, many times, these experiences are not pleasant, therefore resulting in avoidance, failing to address the essential heart of the triggering circumstance.
But when able to be in the present, with senses heightened, absorbing life in for what it is in the moment, simplicity of being unveils. A soft breeze may stir the bones, watching the ocean waves may offer a connection with the exquisite beauty of nature, listening to the birds may invite a sweet melody of calmness, and tasting the air of the current season may bring you sense of â€œhomeâ€.
Stepping on the moist earth that day made me feel something Iâ€™ve been missing; a connection to myself with permission to remove familiar action in order to experience living life in the moment. Feeling the heat from the sun absorbed into the soil rebounded byÂ each step I placed, evoked a nurturing element of compassion and courage to try a new path. Some blades of grass were sharp, but when delicately placedÂ my foot down, the pain melted away. There were moments my toes were tickled by the small flowers in the grass, which brought a child-like smile to my face. Â I miss that playful little girl. She gets lost when she is on autopilot, out of mindfulness mode and on the path of straight and narrow. She forgets to walk barefoot, giggle, breath with the breeze, and pause to feel the sunshine. Itâ€™s never too late. She emerges with the next step.