Claude Monet certainly had a love of flowers, perhaps it was an obsession, or an attachment I am not sure. What this quote brings to mind is that we all have preferences and individual things that bring us joy. For me it is the water, the ocean, a lake, a pond, or a creek (at times a motorized water fountain) brings me a sort of peaceful joy and contentment. It was when I returned home for a visit after living in a city, land locked and separated from the ocean for two years that I recognized this deep love and connection with the water. It was through it’s absence that I came to know its importance to me and I instantly felt at peace and at home.
There are many forms of nature that draw people into this sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation. Some have a love of birds, mountains, jungle, animals, or plants. I am also drawn in by trees and feel both a sense of deep connection and grounding when I contemplate and bring one pointed attention to trees. I am not certain about how these individual differences arise, and certainly do not believe that the deep love and appreciation experienced in daily life is limited to things in our natural surrounding, but I am confident that it is the kind of attention we bring to them that facilitates the feelings of peace, contentment, or joy.
The kind of attention I am referring to is mindfulness, when one intentionally attends to the present moment experience without judgment or expectation. Simply being present and allowing the senses to be touched by what is alive or happening from moment to moment. Like a sponge, just soaking in all that is there and not attempting to change it or hold on it. I am not sure if this was what Monet referred to in his need for flowers, but I would extend this as a truth for all beings, that it is a basic human need to feel love, to sense beauty, joy, or contentment. It is this that allows us to manage the difficulties and hardships we experience as humans.
I learned one-minded attention as a DBT teacher and continue to practice and teach it in daily life. This is a skill, it is practiced through simply choosing things to bring attention to in daily life and allowing all other things to fall into the background. I often teach people to start small with a cup coffee or tea in the morning. The instructions are simple, yet the practice is challenging, because our minds tend to view simple things as boring, and they seek novelty and jump from one thing to another.
Just this coffee…
Holding the cup and sensing the temperature…
Allowing the scent of the coffee to come to you…….
Taking a sip and sensing the temperature and flavor…..
Pausing to allow the senses to open and take it in….
Letting all other thoughts fall away…..
Sitting with just this coffee….
Just this sip, like it is the first sip….
Over and over and over…
Just this coffee!
I am always shocked when I am able to drop into one minded attention, some very simple things can be profoundly satisfying and calming. I am not always able or even willing to cultivate this state, yet after experiencing it time and time again, even if for only a few moments, I find solace in knowing it is possible and present at any moment and most of that the little things are most satisfying.
What do you find brings you joy, or a sense of peace, or contentment? Despite all things, even flowers, they all come and go, so try to catch the moments of presence that can feed your soul with joy, peace, contentment.
With deep appreciation,
Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.