Little Things

by Cyndy Edwards

As some may know, I’m a reader. I read a little of this and a little of that and, sometimes, I binge. I’ve been known to stay up all night reading although I can’t keep my eyes open into the wee hours doing anything else.

What do I nibble read? Usually non-fiction about aging well or teaching/learning to become literate or yoga philosophy or meditation including being or becoming trauma sensitive/informed. Or maybe I’ll come across something I don’t quite understand in a magazine or news article, something I can’t quite wrap my brain around and then the online searches begin. Those, as we are all well-aware, can lead to surprising places.

Why am I sharing this? Because in all of my nibbling, I have an odd assortment of phrases I return to again & again. The latest one to surface is related to little things.

As you may or may not know, I’m a bit of a Rick Hanson fan. It all started with a copy of one of his earlier books, Buddha’s Brain: the practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom, which led me to what I consider a practical little book, just one thing: developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time. The brain book fed my long-time fascination with that life-sustaining organ. Not only does Hanson explain the physiology in a way this lay person can understand, he connects our neurology to a philosophy of mind that makes sense to me.  It was late December a few years ago when I picked up his little book of practices. Fifty-two of them. The same number of weeks found in our calendars each year.  Of course, I committed to exploring the practices, one week at a time.

My little book is now marked up with pencil lines and comments and stickies. I find myself returning to these practices, these simple little things over and over. There’s one in particular that I’d like to share here. Hanson puts it in the number two spot: “Take in the Good”.  As Hanson explains, this practice addresses our inherited negative-oriented neurology. Taking in the good shifts us to building, or re-wiring if you will, our brains toward the positive. And it is simple to do. It works like this:

When you notice something good, allow yourself a few seconds – perhaps 2-3 breaths –

to relish the sweet, warmth feelings that arise with your noticing.

That’s it. A few moments of being in the moment with something that nourishes you emotionally or physically, feeling the warmth, love, awe, joy a bit longer so that it sinks into your body and mind will begin to shift your neurology.

Why bother?  Because I believe finding and taking in the good lays the groundwork for gratitude and social connection which are vital to being human. In the chapter wherein the Dalia Lama & Archbishop Tutu are discussing compassion, Douglas Abrams puts it this way: Yet evolutionary science has come to see cooperation, and its core emotions of empathy, compassion, and generosity, as fundamental to our species’ survival. (The Book of Joy, p258)

Little things. Notice the little things and let yourself soak in their goodness.

I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.

~Lord Chesterfield

Little Things