A Slow Autumn – rediscovering lost mindfulness.

Is there anything more cosy than settling down in front of a log fire, candles lit, glass of something delicious in your hand? I don’t think there is. If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s been to slow down and enjoy the life I have. During lockdown this process was enforced and often resented, now for many, it’s selected.

I lost my grandmother at the beginning of September – she was 110 years old and lived an extremely ‘slow’ life. Time was taken for everything because she came from an era when nothing was on demand – food was slow, transport was slow….it was a time of ritual and habit – a time when knowing where somebody could be found at a certain time was the mobile phone of the era, a point of communication.

In recent months I’ve got into the habit of walking daily, every morning, and the day has become so much more productive as a result. Whatever the weather, the lane outside my house offers a seasonal glimpse of country life, the light in the morning is outstanding; some days it’s pink, others tinged with grey-blue, and a golden light sometimes descends over the hillside. If I don’t walk, I am not in the right mind for the rest of the day, it has become an addiction, a positive one, one without which I don’t think my mental health would survive.

I know that mindfulness is fashionable at the moment but, as I’ve said before, we are simply relearning a forgotten coping mechanism. Whether it was mending socks by candlelight (incandescent light is exceptionally good for relaxing the mind), buffing boots to a shine, reading a book, peeling onions for pickling, mending, playing an instrument…many of these mindful things are now forgotten skills, they weren’t merely habits, they were necessities, in which pride was taken – it boosted mental health. People say, “take up a hobby”, and many people choose hobbies which offer more stress, hiding under adrenaline-fuelled feats – hobbies should be an opportunity to wind down and to allow the circadian rhythms to do their thing, placing us in a good frame of mind, with plenty of sleep and energy for work.

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