Mindfulness: A Smiling Mind

Last weekend at a conference, several of my colleagues presented about mindfulness. Mindfulness is more than yoga and breathing. It’s about being in the moment, enjoying the little things, taking time for yourself, being more observant, and other wonderful catch phrases of which we could all embrace more.

There has been more traffic than usual in Istanbul the last few weeks. In the morning, our commute has remained a solid hour. In the afternoon, however, we have had to take the back roads. Door to door has been about two hours. That’s roughly three hours on a bus each day. I’m thankful for the alternative route that prevents three hours from becoming four or more, but…my word… That’s a lot of commute time…

Each time I hear the words “dark red” from a colleague checking the traffic of our normal route, I groan with the understanding that we’re taking the back roads again…Yesterday, I set my phone aside and decided to practice mindfulness.

I admired the houses in the villages: exterior stairwells to the upper level, laundry hanging out to dry, shoes outside the front door…

I love the blue tiles inside a mosque we pass that are visible from the bus.

I noticed a woman collecting dirt into a bucket from a field.

We passed by another field FULL of storks pecking at the ground. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single stork, let alone hundreds!

Not a minute or two later, I saw a herd of sheep and two little lambs (which reminded me of the other day when I saw one black sheep in a different herd). The shepherd dog wasn’t far behind. My favorite part? On the edge of the field, a man had laid out his rug and slipped off his shoes to say his prayers.

Trees are blossoming and the tulips are blooming: red, yellow, pink, and more!

After I got off the bus and hiked up the Tophane hill, I noticed a young girl walking back and forth with a ribbon in hopes of a street cat playing along. Obviously, the cat took the bait.

When I got back to Cihangir today, I stopped at the store for a few groceries. Across the street on the way to my flat, a toddling girl was gently holding onto a cat’s tail and following him around. I stopped to watch her. Sure enough, the cat took a swat at her. Her father, the nut man, and myself all burst into laughter, and then of course, so did the little one.

And now, after enjoying a delicious dinner, I am listening to the sound of rain. It sounds one way on the window and another on the street.

I am so thankful for the reminder last weekend to take in my surroundings so that I can return home at the end of a long day with a happy heart and a smiling mind.

I love Istanbul.

One comment

  1. Long ago, before you were born, while we still lived in Villa Park, it was early spring and I was whining about something and your mother told me “Just be glad your daffodils are blooming.” I’m glad you are learning to be glad.


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