October 2011: Respite
After last month’s blog entry, I had the pleasure to head out into the woods with two of my favourite people and my dog—and make my own attempts at distracting myself with a mild form of meditation. In basic terms, it can be described as paying attention to (and appreciating) my surroundings. Another word for it is mindfulness. I’ve used this word before. It is also part of the broad art of meditation.
As I type this, I am looking at a photo my husband took of me sitting in the creek focusing on the sights and sounds all around me. Of course he didn’t know that I was doing anything in particular; he was simply taking a picture of his wife perched on a large rock in the shallow, soothing creek. He also captured a brief video of this moment; and so, I can relive the moment to a certain extent. Somehow it just isn’t the same, but it is a good reminder.
In that moment of being immersed in nature, I recall there being nothing to worry about. I allowed the rush of the little creek (amazing what sound can be produced from such a small amount of water in motion) to drown out all thoughts but those of the creek, the canyon, the trees, and the trail. The sights of the towering canyon blotted out intruding visions of tasks, and lists, and stuff of everyday life. The wind in the trees sighed a little louder than my own. The earth’s own aroma of life in its natural cycle kept the sights and sounds fresh and alive—gave them power to supersede all other thought. And for that moment, there was nothing to worry about. My mind had a break from its normal rush and roar. My spirit was replenished.
Now of course one cannot stay perched on a large rock in a soothing creek forever. Life will go on—with or without me. However, I am grateful for the moment of reprieve—and this secondary one being able to relive it in some fashion. It also calls to me to do that again. What I find the greater challenge is making time for mini-breaks in the midst of everyday life. It is one thing to go off into the wilderness on the occasional weekend. It is quite another to incorporate meditation or mindfulness into routine.
I can do this in two ways. One of which is to take breaks of solitude and focus on sights, sounds, or smells that soothe. The other is be fully present in any given moment. I find this takes a bit more discipline, but others may find this easier than setting aside solitude time. As I type this and think about being fully present, I take note of the sound my computer makes as my fingers “fly across the keyboard.” I hear the quiet drone of the main computer in the room. The silence of the rest of the house becomes ‘louder’ in the stillness. If I listen more closely, I would eventually hear the hum of the refrigerator or the whir of the furnace fan. Just now, my slippers brushed against the legs of the chair as I switched positions. Glancing out the window, I can see fall colours highlighted by the late afternoon sun. I think it is too early for the sun to start its descent into evening, but such is part of autumn. As I focus my attention outside, the sounds of vehicles become evident. People are returning home from work. The day is shifting to evening activities.
Even now, I am amazed at how effective that little exercise was at calming my hurried brain intent on completing yet another task. My breathing has slowed. My attention shifted. However, I must return my focus to the task at hand in order to start another one: supper preparation.
Thank you for sharing this moment with me. May you find the perfect spot in your day to slow down to be fully present or stop altogether for quiet meditation.