Sometimes, stopping and staring is absolutely what I need to do. Worrying about what is ahead, all the things I have to do, what will be, the 5 year plan, what to have for tea....its dysregulating, undermining, overwhelming, discombobulating. Not that the future is always bad of course, planning, dreaming, wondering and imagining can be exciting too, but today is a day I need to stop and smell the roses, feel the sunshine on my face, breathe in and out and stop.
Mammals are particularly good at this. They completely embrace the moment. Watching my deaf daft dog, she moves from joyful to curious, to playful to bored, to frightened to asleep and back to playful all within seconds. She is entirely stimulated by her senses and her social interested and alert brain, adapting to whatever is happening. This is because she is primarily dominated by her limbic system, rather than a complex overdeveloped cortex!
Our cortex (the top part of a 3 part brain!) accounts for 35% of our brain (on average of course) and its where we spend most of our time....thinking, planning, analysing, reflecting, imagining, talking...cognitive and abstract thought. A dog's cortex however accounts for only 7% of their brain, so they, like many mammals dwell mostly in the subcortical region, namely the limbic system picking up sensory information from far and wide and responding to it immediately for the generation of happy chemicals and the suppression of the negative ones....
...so what??!!! Well, we can learn a great deal from just being with and/or watching animals. Noticing and focusing on how they are 'in the moment'; quietening our frontal lobes and tuning into our senses and noticing the detail on a leaf, the way an animal moves, plays, communicates, stopping thinking for a while and learning to just be.
Children of course, with developing and underdeveloped brains, spend less time thinking (neocortex) and more time playing, sensing and being in the moment. This is one of the reasons why, children have an innate fascination with animals, and why, they see the small things, and wonder and marvel at the 'silliest' of details. Animals are an infinite source of joy and learning for animals...by being and watching and absorbing, children can learn about the animal, their interaction, social communication (without words) and ultimately themselves. Limbic brain to limbic brain connection. Deep, spiritual, profound and immensely restorative.
And so for now, I shall put aside my 'to-do' list and just focus on being.