I decided to take a little walk around with a focus on mindfulness of the senses. Instead of trying to reach out and create a mental conversation with the world around me, I withdrew slightly and moved into the role of observer.
After a few false starts I was finally able to quiet my brain and noticed that the landscape came into sharp focus. A burgeoning abundance of blossom and birds was one of the first things I noticed. Dark, prickly gorse in bloom with yellow buds folding into themselves, reminded me of childhood snapdragons and their open and closing mouths. I noticed foxgloves floating in a waving sea of grass, buttercups seeking the sun, flowing strands of wool snagged and waving like a flag on a blackberry mast, fuchsia ringing pink and purple bells in the warm wind, ferns and moss gathered in the recesses of the old stone walls and a bright moon in a blue summer sky.
Some hooded crows were arguing with the magpies, bickering and complaining and occasionally calling each other names. As I passed by, the rivals became allies and they began to taunt me, telling me to leave, talking to each other wondering how long it would take before I pass by. I stood and listened and realized there was something they were waiting for and were quite angry that I had interrupted their discussion. Sure enough, a few feet down the road I noticed someone had spilled a basket of fruit and it was apparent that both sides were trying to work out their fair share.
A small bird sang a self absorbed song, sometimes calling, sometimes entertaining himself. He would occasionally change his melody mid-tune, just for a moment, as if experimenting, composing something just a little bit fancier each time. He sat in the hawthorn amongst the blossoms. I wondered why the locals call the hawthorn “bread and butter” and vowed to taste it next time I passed by.
Nearing the cliffs I remembered there was supposed to be a faery rath nearby and wondered where it could be. Two ravens appeared over the ridge and swooped down, barrel rolling, and chasing each other. They disappeared for just a moment, their black bodies obscured by the mouth of a darkened cave, until they curved again skyward into the sunshine. Do I dare enter the cave on my next journey? (Perhaps…)
I spotted mushrooms growing on a shady side of a wall and considered them. Were they benign? Could they be poisonous? A closer inspection almost found me stepping into a patch of nettles; I pulled back suddenly and caught my wrist on a tiny branch of blackthorn, giving myself a scratch. I was surprised that my observance didn’t turn into judgment of good versus bad, pretty versus ugly, or, “This plant is nice, that plant is not”.
Normally I think it is human nature to compartmentalize things according to our likes and dislikes, or what we consider good for us and bad for us. Because I set out on this meditative journey asking for mindfulness I didn’t feel the need to judge what I was observing, but understood that it was no longer fair to pigeon hole anybody or anything according to my preferences. I realized today that nature just “is”, neither good nor bad, just a “be-ing” that lives in the moment.
As an extension of nature and the world around us, I decided I would start trying to appreciate things more on a moment to moment basis. I am notorious for making lists, planning projects and penciling items into my calendar. Today’s walking meditation close to home taught me the lessons of observance, living in the moment, being non-judgmental and honouring the simple moments and heartbeats that make up our days.
(I need to make a note of this and carve it in the palm of my hand)