Opportunities for Mindfulness
The world was so beautiful when regarded like this, without searching, so simply, in such a childlike way. Moons and stars were beautiful, beautiful were bank and stream, forest and rocks, goat and gold-bug, flower and butterfly. So lovely, so delightful to go through the world this way, so like a child, awake, open to what is near, without distrust.” ― Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
I read Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse for the first time this week and I was blown away. Why I never read it before, I don’t know, but nonetheless, the timing now couldn’t be better. If you haven’t read it, it’s about a young Indian man’s journey into spiritual awakening. During his journey, Siddhartha encounters many characters, including the Buddha, himself. For those of us exploring mindfulness, Siddhartha’s journey showed me that our life experiences are far more significant in our search for enlightenment than are what we learn from books or spiritual teachers. Siddhartha was written in 1922 and takes place at the time of the Buddha. Hesse wrote the book in German but even the English translation shows us his beautiful writing. Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946 “for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”. (www.nobelprize.org)
As I reflected on Siddhartha, I was inspired to think about all the ways in which I allow opportunities for mindfulness into my life. Retirement is a great time in life to explore these opportunities and I’m enjoying all of them! A few of my mindfulness opportunities are below.
Surf and Sand
I live five miles from the beach. But since tanning is a no-go for me, I go to the beach for other reasons. Staring at and listening to the rhythm of the waves puts me in a meditative state. Research shows that it actually changes our brain waves. https://www.facebook.com/NBCNews/videos/470979653295104/
The color blue is associated with feelings of peace and calm. And the ocean sounds activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows us down and helps us to relax. I breathe deeply, smelling the ocean and feeling the sand between my toes. There’s nothing quite like it for experiencing the joy of the present moment.
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou
About a year ago, Jim and I bought an Amazon Echo. Not only is Alexa fun and helpful as a personal assistant, she brings me whatever music I want at the moment. I’m enjoying creating a mindfulness channel. Right now I’m listening to Bruno Mars – ah, joy! Check out the following website for meditation music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/relaxing-mindfulness-meditation-relaxation-maestro/id818739491
I find that listening to music can both accompany meditation and be a mindfulness practice by itself. Music is a language of energy, a “vibe” of emotions and joy. I have an old friend who is a classical guitarist. He visited us recently and treated us to a personal concert. Closing my eyes and listening to him play was as meditative as any meditation exercise I’ve experienced.
What’s so great about music for mindfulness is that you get to listen your way. You get to pick the song, the beat and the volume intensity. It’s a personal and powerful experience and it speaks to each person in a different way. http://www.thesocialbeing721.com/2016/11/10/benefits-music-healing-power/
This may be my signature way of practicing mindfulness All I have to do is look out my back window to feel connected to nature. Not a day goes by that I don’t welcome “Grandaddy”, our resident blue heron, or “Angel”, our white egret to the ocean waters that ebb and flow behind my house. After our daily walk each morning, I sit on my back patio, with Chuck, my Welsh Terrier, on my lap. We quietly listen to the sounds of the marsh grasses, watch the sun start to shimmer on the water, and breath in the morning breezes rustling through the pine trees. This daily ritual starts my day on a mindful note.
After a lifetime of hustle and bustle in suburbia and the city, I looked forward to retirement to help me reconnect with the natural world. Nature nourishes and replenishes my soul. I love what Mark Coleman says:
“Many of us have forgotten how to listen, feel, and sense the natural world and why it’s vital to our own humanity. We can turn the tide by engaging in regular contact with nature while cultivating the simple yet profound quality of mindful attention.”
I highly recommend the book, AWAKE IN THE WILD: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self Discovery by Mark Coleman with Introduction by Jack Kornfield
My wish for you is that your daily life experiences nourish your soul and bring you peace.
Let it Go
by Danna Faulds
Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold:
the holding of plans or dreams or expectations – Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide.
The choice to fight what is here before you now will
only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts
to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.
Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes
through your days whether you received it gently
or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith; the mind may never find the
explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward
nonetheless. Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry
you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams
or destinations. Let it all go and find the place of
rest and peace, and certain transformation.