Friday 27 January 2012: First light over the fields...
Not quite such an early start today - there was even the first glimmer of light in the sky as I arose. On Fridays Alex works at Orton Pit, and it always seems even more of a rush than his college days, probably because I feel I have to pack up lots of food and drink for an eight hour day out in the cold, Today he went off with home-made ham and lentil soup, two cheese rolls, a flask of tea, a container of Ribena and assorted dried and fresh fruit. The fruit came home again, as it usually does - boys!!
I had to take him to a farm track that I'd not been to before - thank goodness for Google Earth! I refuse to have a sat nav in the car, but once I've seen a route I'm pretty good at memorizing it. Probably the result of years finding my way to strange places in the middle of nowhere!! this demonstrates the benefits of practice, because I was pretty rubbish at using maps when I was a teenager, and still have trouble with left and right, much to the amusement of the rest of the family.
The sun was just rising as I drove down the track, but I couldn't stop at that stage, so this was taken on the return journey. There was a large flock of lapwing on one field, and I thought I might be able to get a decent shot, but they all flew off as soon as the car stopped, so I just sat and admired them instead. It was very peaceful looking across the field towards Yaxley Church, even though the A1, with it crowds of commuters, was only a stone's throw away.
The rest of the day passed pleasantly enough. I tidied up a bit, as we're having guests tomorrow, visited a nearby wood with the dogs, wrote some report, chatted with Ben and then went to pick Alex up. By this time there was heavy, cold rain and he got soaked walking back down the track to meet me. I didn't take the camera, but as I was sitting in the car waiting for him there was the most spectacular sunset, which appeared suddenly and dramatically from behind the dark grey clouds. I really should know better...
During the day I found a little time to browse a few journals including a thoughtful piece by Earthdreamer. He reminded me of the state known as 'mindfulness' which I first heard about several years ago on Radio 4. At the time it struck a chord with me, and is something that I've included in my life, initially consciously, but now it's just become part of who I am. Many benefits are ascribed to mindfulness, as described in this extract from Psychology Today:
Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and helps patients cope with cancer. By alleviating stress, spending a few minutes a day actively focusing on living in the moment reduces the risk of heart disease. Mindfulness may even slow the progression of HIV.
Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive. As a result, mindful couples have more satisfying relationships.
I certainly know that if, for any reason, I'm not able to have this focus on just being, I experience increased stress levels. For me it usually happens when I'm out walking and taking photographs, but the wonderful thing about it is that you can do it anywhere, at any time, once you've had the practice.