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Mental Health: Recognize the magic of the moment
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Mental Health: Recognize the magic of the moment

Nora Hille

Sky cloud blue.

A ray of sunlight breaks out,

gently kisses my skin.

I squint at the sky. Sunlight comes out from between the clouds. Wind caresses my face. Strands of hair tickle my cheeks.

Gratitude for the now

I am so grateful for this vast sky above me. Grateful to feel the wind on my skin. I feel I have been given a gift. How good that I went outside the door. I’m on my way to the supermarket. A walk with a fixed destination, yet offering the opportunity to leave everyday life behind. Or, more aptly, to discover the miraculous in the mundane.

Wind on my skin.

Blue stretches the sky.

My soul sings.

Sincere encounters from person to person

At the supermarket, I exchange a few friendly words with the cashier as I place my goods on the conveyor belt. A bunch of carrots, apples, cucumbers, lamb’s lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, basil, cayenne pepper, eggs, cornflakes, rice, pasta, milk, two bars of chocolate with whole nuts. We talk about the weather, but it’s not small talk. We perceive each other, look deeply into each other’s eyes, smile at each other. Are both human, united in a sincere encounter. For me, eyes are the window to the soul. Soul windows that let others look into me, just as I explore the depths of other eyes with my gazes. At first still so strange and new, then at some point familiar and full of affection, this mutual awareness.

About the duration of the moment

How long does a moment last? Listening after the word, I think it’s about that brief moment between two blinks.

According to brain researcher Ernst Pöppel, our experienced present always lasts about the same amount of time – or in this case, a short time: “The brain defines for itself system states lasting a maximum of three seconds. Every three seconds, the brain asks the sensory cells, so to speak: Is there something new outside?”[1]

After these three seconds, our brain constructs a new present moment from all the sensory impressions that come to us, combined with the thoughts that are currently running through our heads.

A new chance every three seconds

Three seconds, then, that we can consciously experience by paying attention to ourselves and to our surroundings. Three seconds in which we listen attentively, smell, see, touch, feel – completely focused on our sensory perceptions. Perceive our thoughts and feelings from the role of an observer. So that are very close to the concept of mindfulness. Three seconds full of life, in which something magical can happen at any time.

Or three seconds in which we are thinking about problems, fiddling around on our cell phones, possibly even planning next week’s work, therefore walking through the world with blinders on and missing the chance to experience a genuine, unadulterated moment.

The path through the park

On the way back, I pull my bulging shopping trolley, heavy with two bags, behind me through the park. The sun has once again come out from behind the clouds, and the plants are still shining from the last rain shower in a rich, vibrant green. It smells like cut grass. I see and marvel. What a splendor!

Suddenly soft guitar sounds. My gaze wanders to the right, past elderberries, blackberries and cherry trees. In the middle of the large meadow, behind a few bushes, two musicians sit on their chairs, music stands in front of them, guitars in their arms.

A private concert – for me!

Magic of the moment private concert of Jael and Leo
The two great guitarists Jael and Leo

The sun warms my back. I stand still. I call out to them, “Well, now I’d like to hear something from you, too!” “I’d love to,” one of the musicians answers and waves me cheerfully over. Cautiously, I make my way to my private concert. The shopping trolley jerks and jerks behind me, while I scan the bumpy meadow with my eyes for possible doggie leftovers. Then I arrived. We chat. I learn that one guitarist is a music teacher and that his teenage blond companion has been learning this instrument since second grade. Music paper rustles. They start to play. For me!

In two voices and tenderly the tones of the Hallelujah float into the summer sky. My heart becomes wide. What a beautiful music.

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Music connects, gives joy and hope

I hear a family approaching. The toddler cries. The man shouts “The women are from Ukraine. We will bring the kid home and then come back.” I get goose bumps. From the music, but also from the depth and meaning of this shared moment. Yes, music is a universal language that we all understand, because it directly reaches our souls. A language that even in times of war like these little flowers of hope bloom.

“Do you see how much joy you bring to people with your music?”, I ask the two guitarists with a smile as we walk.

The magic of mindfulness

Being open to the magic of the moment unlocks an important resource for mental health. Magical moments happen at any time. But it is up to us to discover them in the everyday. This is also about mindfulness. A wonderful concept in itself, which in my eyes unfortunately begins to lose its charm through the inflationary frequent use of the term.

Maybe that’s why I wrote about the magic of the moment. Those who want to discover it need attention – both inwardly and outwardly.

Look, enjoy.

Embrace the moment

Sunset light.

An abridged version of this article first appeared in experimenta – Magazin für Literatur, Kunst und Gesellschaft, issue 07/08 “Leben erleben” on p.57-58. See also:

[1] Rosenbach, Manfred: “Die entscheidenden drei Sekunden,” last updated January 15, 2008. Source: (accessed June 9, 2022).

About the author

Nora Hille

Nora Hille was born in 1975, is happily married and has two children. She studied history, literature and media studies, worked in communications/public relations for 12 years and has now retired for health reasons. Today she writes articles on the topics of mental health and mental illness as a sufferer and experience expert. She also writes literary essays, poems (preferably haikus) and short prose. She regularly publishes her mental health column here at FemalExperts Magazine and is Editor of eXperimenta - the magazine for literature, art and society. Anti-stigma work is close to her heart: she is an encourager at Mutmachleute e.V. and is committed to Anti-Stigma-Texts against the stigmatization (exclusion) of the mentally ill in our society for more togetherness, tolerance and equality. In autumn 2023 her book "When Light Defeats Darkness" will be published by Palomaa Publishing. A book of encouragement about how to live a good and rich life despite bipolar illness - and the enormous challenge that this means every day for the inner balance of those affected.

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