At first glance, this story may not appear to have much to do with the Italy trip. However, the little daily ritual that developed around the practice that is at the heart of this story, had a profound effect on my journey.
I wear contact lenses, and have since the age of 14. I don’t even own a pair of perscription glasses. A few days before flying to Italy, I realized that I had not purchased a spare set of lenses, in case I lost or broke a contact lens. While I didn’t want to focus on that scenario, it wasn’t without precedent. During my 2014 trip to Scotland, I did indeed break a lens while cleaning it.
What to do? Because I believe that what I focus on expands, I didn’t want to worry about losing my contact lenses or dwell on that possibility. It wasn’t my intention to create the reality of losing a contact. And yet, having both lenses securely in my eyes meant the difference between seeing like this…
This is what I came up with. I was much more likely to lose one of those small glass discs if I wasn’t paying attention. Being distracted, or thinking of something else, or rushing through the process raised my chances of a mishap.
Every morning during the trip, as I cleansed my lenses and popped them into my eyes, I slowed down and repeated aloud to myself, “Be mindful. Be mindful.” I went through the same little ritual at night as I removed the lenses from my eyes and dropped them into their case. “Be mindful.”
I didn’t lose or break a contact lens, thanks to that daily exercise, which was a blessing.
However, something else amazing happened. Bringing my attention to the moment each morning, and telling myself to be mindful, created an awareness of mindfulness that lasted throughout the day…an unexpected benefit as we traveled.
Mindfulness is defined as a quality of fullness, and of attention, it is practicing immediacy, and a state of non-distraction. Research has shown that people are substantially happier when paying attention to what they are doing.
Mindfulness can be achieved through a daily meditation practice. However, I found that the simple practice of bringing my full attention to the task at hand not only prevented a mishap with my lenses, it grounded me, centered me, and raised my awareness.
As I moved through each long and fun packed day, I did so from a place of calmness and joy, observing the beautiful Italian cities and countryside. I noticed the people around me. I noticed what I was thinking and feeling and doing. At the end of the day, bringing my attention back to the moment prepared me for a night of rest and reminded me of the wonders of the day.
I loved how something so simple became a crucial part of my day. Be mindful. I am continuing this new practice at home, repeating the words each time I put in my contacts or remove them. Be mindful.
On the last day of our tour, Fabiola, our wonderful tour director, shared words of wisdom with us. The Italians have a saying, similar to the well known Latin phrase, carpe diem…seize the day.
In Italy they say cogli l’attimo…pick up the moment. It is a way of remembering to live each moment fully, holding it dear. Pick up the moment reminds them to be mindful.
I had been practicing cogli l’attimo all week. What a beautiful truth. And how clearly I could see it.