I used to teach from a beautiful book called “Outside Lies Magic.” It told the story of a Harvard college professor who sent his students out to discover what they had never know before. He asked them to notice everything in their environment, giving them about an hour. And when they came back, you would not believe how many things they had discovered in one ordinary city block.
The students remembered that activity for the rest of their lives, because it changed their focus. When the professor was in the airport 10 years later, students from the past would race up to him and say, “Professor Stilgoe, I remember when you really opened up the world to me because I was too busy to notice. I had never learned to slow down before, and simply notice my amazing environment, and how much there was to learn before.”
Mindfulness is like that. So I send my Ph.D. students out into the field around the Claremont Colleges to simply notice, what they had not seen before. And to document, and bring artifacts and then ask questions. It was fascinating to me how their artifacts were so different, and how they led to questions about the past and world history and how everything had connections.
I watched the their minds light up to the act of mindfulness, knowing it would help them finally under understand how connected all things were. They would invariably say, “Everything around us is so amazing. We never noticed it before.”
Because I have seen the effects of mindfulness in an ordinary environment, I know that when we go out, we overlook so much. If only we could learn to really see, and focus, how different our lives would be. To see that you have everything it takes right now to love, to prosper, to be successful.
What is it that you are not noticing in your life or your environment right now?