Walk with Me: My mom Gives Advice on Paying Attention to Surroundings and Keeping Calm

Walk with Me

By Priscilla Wieck

At the end of our morning walk, dog and I usually go by our “new” house to check on the progress being made. We also are getting acquainted with our soon-to-be new neighborhood. Since the houses on both sides of mine are now empty, there are no adjacent neighbors to meet but last week I did have a nice chat with Priscilla Wallace who lives nearby . When I spotted her, she was standing on the corner looking upward.  I thought maybe she was watching squirrels at play.

Not so, however, as Priscilla pointed out that she was observing the large tulip popular tree in bloom that was on the corner next to my house.

This tulip poplar is across the street from us. The blossoms are in the upper branches.

She told me that she had lived in that area for 40 years and never paid special attention to the tree or its flowering until someone told her about it this year. I am glad she told me or I too might have not noticed the small olive green,yellow and orange cup shaped blossoms.

My mom and I managed to snatch a blossom from the tulip popular on our block.

Made me reflect on how much we miss by keeping our eyes looking down and forgetting to look up. There is a Sunday sermon in there somewhere!

Priscilla is a name not often heard in these parts so we engaged in an interesting discussion about the many mis-spellings of our name that we have endured over the years. We parted our ways with promises to meet again for a back yard chat when I get settled in. I now am searching for more blooming tulip popular trees around town thanks to a new friend and soon to be neighbor.

Every media source including newspapers, magazines,Internet and television is featuring items about ways to relieve anxiety. There is so much uncertainty in our lives today that the pressures of just being able to cope with these constant changes is a challenge.

Most of us have heard of meditation methods that are said to help rid us of anxious thoughts and feelings by focusing on deep ,slow breathing and letting the mind ‘float’. Some people who have tried this mindfulness method have reported that trying to ‘float’ their minds has resulted in an increase instead of a decrease in their anxiety level.Trying not to think about what stressed them gave them more stress .Mindfulness does not work for everyone.

I have been reading lately about a mind game method for treating anxiety called the ‘5-4-3-2-1- calming technique. It does start with meditation’s deep breathing , the in for 5 seconds ,hold for 5 and out for 5 method. After the deep breathing, the 5-4-3-2-1- method instructs us to engage our 5 senses to keep us in the present . If you have not had success with the mindfulness meditation technique, perhaps this game will help. You can practice it anywhere—lying or sitting down, walking , doing yard work , housework or just doing nothing.

5– Start with the number 5. Mentally name and see FIVE things around you, a bird, a pencil,a curtain,etc.

4—Mentally list FOUR things you can touch that are around you ,such as your hands, hair,etc.

3—Listen for THREE things you hear around you, a clock, a car, a mower etc.

2—Focus on TWO things you can smell, depending on where you are, a flower, dinner cooking,etc.

1—Think of ONE thing you can taste,gum, lunch,etc.

This mind game is being promoted as a way to bring attention to our senses and keep us in the present . It is used to direct our thoughts away from our problems. By counting different items psychologists think we interrupt the out of control spinning of our thoughts that cause stress. I have tried it at bedtime and it sure put me to sleep in a hurry. I think it would also be a fun game for the kids too. Don’t forget that our young people are facing just as much anxiety as we adults.

You can invent several variations of this game such as increasing the number of items or you can use the old alphabet circle game ,naming different items according to the order of letters in the alphabet . If this doesn’t de-stress you, it might at least help your brain work some. Give it a try! Can’t hurt. Might help. And don’t forget to look up once in a while! Remember the tulip populars!

“When I hear somebody sigh and say, ‘Life is so hard’, I am always tempted to ask—compared to what?”——Sidney Harris


About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
This entry was posted in A Visit Home to America, A Visit Home to Marshall, Illinois, Smalltown American Life, Springtime in small town Marshall, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Walk with Me: My mom Gives Advice on Paying Attention to Surroundings and Keeping Calm

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks, Priscilla for another thoughtful writing. Mind floating is a method you mentioned that I often use at bedtime….it really helps me leave the business of the day behind. I have a granddaughter, who is at time anxious and I believe I will offer her the “mind game” as an option. Thanks…..and while I don’t always look up I do enjoy the many bits of nature I come across daily while walking Miss Gracie, who sniffs constantly as she strolls down the street.

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