I learned this little practice from someone back in NYC:
Put down your phone or pen. Maybe walk away from the keyboard and screen (though you don’t even have to do that). Take a breath. Now complete each of the following statements three times; then two times; then just one time.
I see ___.
I hear ___.
I feel ___.
For example, earlier this afternoon I got off a call that left me all abuzz. My mind raced. In the few moments that followed I turned off the air conditioner, ate half an ice cream bar, and opened way too many browser windows to be productive – all in record time.
So I went outside on the patio and completed the sentences:
I see green leaves rustling. I see the sun shining hard on the concrete. I see the white cross above the church down the street against the bright blue roof of the IHOP.
I hear the elevated train off in the distance. I hear the jackhammer at the construction site. I hear the kids playing at the school down the block.
I feel energized by that meeting. I feel satiated from the ice cream. I feel the wind on my arms.
I see the limbs of the tree extending from the solid dark trunk. I see the bright red crane against the blue sky.
I hear the construction workers calling commands. I hear the wind in the trees.
I feel my hair tickling my neck and forehead. I feel the weight of my hands on my waist.
I see the clutter of plants and furniture on the neighbors’ patio.
I hear an ambulance siren.
I feel the hot pavement underneath my feet.
Three, three, three, two, two, two, one, one, one. It really works.
Photo: 35mm, May 2013, Maryland.