“Remember when, as a child, just the sight of a swing-set, or a pony or a hula hoop, would get your heart racing and your imagination somersaulting? And without even thinking in words, you felt that surely, the world revolved around you? That you were the most blessed creature ever to live, and that having fun was number one?
Well, I still wonder how, at such a tender age, you knew so much.”
— Mike Dooley
In this lecture, entitled “Dancing Life’s Dance,” Mike Dooley (author, Notes from the Universe) goes on to say “everything in your life has that kind of magic when you are in the now. And you can put yourself there on purpose.”
If you are familiar with this blog, it’s not a stretch to see why Mike’s message resonates with me. Presence does transform our lives, helping us to experience the magic that is available to us when we choose to let it in.
But as we’ve explored in earlier posts, sometimes it feels impossible to get there from here. We have real life worries, responsibilities, and regrets that can make it difficult to access our joy at will. There is no “magic portal” that we can jump into to tell our life situation, “hold on, I am going to enter the NOW so I can feel better….”
Actually, there are five such portals.
I know what you’re thinking. “Too much Magic Tree House, Shannon.” And it’s true that I tell my kids bedtime stories, where portals lead to the lands of pirates, mermaids, knights, and American Ninja Warriors.
I guess that’s why this metaphor arose for me when I sat down to write. Yes, each of us has five of our own built-in portals for accessing the now. I am talking about our physical senses. This is essentially the same practice I talked about in “Milk it.” It’s about taking in through the senses what’s good at this particular moment, and allowing yourself some time to enjoy it.
In “Grateful Heart, Happy Brain,” I talked about the power of this practice to create a happier brain. Current neuroscience tells us that, by noticing and allowing ourselves to experience and enjoy the good and beautiful things in our day, we actually create new brain structures that cause us to see more good and feel greater happiness.
I’m going to propose an adventure for you to take, to really experience this for yourself — a journey through the five magic portals over the next five days. So, for today, we can pick sight, for example. Create an intention to notice what you can see that looks good, or beautiful, or pleasing in some way, and then to take 15-20 seconds (or more, if you want) to allow yourself to really enjoy it. Then, throughout the day, see what you can see as beautiful/good in some way, giving yourself time to appreciate it and take it in.
Just noticing and allowing are enough, but if you are inclined, you could even photograph, draw or journal to further enhance your trip. It’s your portal adventure; might as well make it fun.
Then, pick a different sense tomorrow. The others may be less obvious than sight, but they are there. As you go through your day, listen. Allow what is beautiful in the world to find you through sound. Listen to the noises of friendliness at the grocery store, or to the rushing sounds of your pipes, bringing life-giving water right into your home. The breathing-hum a person makes when you hug them, or that your dog makes when you rest your head on her scruff. Throughout the day, notice, appreciate, and allow.
Next day, maybe breathe in the morning moisture and let the smells of autumn remind you that this very moment is changing in color. All day, allow the clean cotton laundry smell to ground you in gratitude for warmth and clean clothing. Draw in simmering food smells, the smell of possibility in fresh cut wood at Lowe’s (yeah, we spend a lot of time there), the scent of the top of a loved one’s head where you place a kiss.
Then, there is a day to appreciate touch. The smoothness of sheets as you slide your feet out of bed in the morning. The heat of the steam lifting from your coffee mug. The aliveness of your skin. The silk of a dog’s ear, and the fuzz on the top of her nose. The way a hug can pour into you, filling you up, or turn your stress into water that streams down your back.
Tasting day is going to be fun — eating mindfully and savoring so many tastes offered within each meal. Even a deep breath tastes good, when it is drawn in with appreciation.
Notice. Appreciate. Allow. Focus on one sense each day for the next five days, and let me know how you like your adventure. Come back and comment after a day or two, or five. I want to know, did your portals lead you, or maybe catapult you, into the present?
Did you find magic?