Happy Earth Day!
I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and was struck by how I could actually see spring emerging right before my eyes. It was so subtle, I almost missed it.
Bare to beautiful
I was walking through a neighborhood and after initially commenting to myself that all the trees and bushes (unlike in California and especially after this year’s rain) were all barren and brown, I became more mindful, really paid attention, and realized that each tree, each branch, each bush actually had thousands of tiny buds on them, poised and ready to bloom, to erupt with color. Imperceptible at first, but then I could see millions of tiny traces of green that would soon become the leaves that would fill in those empty branches – sort of like observing the night sky with so many more stars than I could possibly ever count. It was magical.
In one moment I could see only bareness. In the next moment I could see the vividness and hear the vibrant hum of buds ready to bloom. I caught my breath. My eyes widened, to take in all of that promise of color, that when I was just walking by had not seen – or felt.
Spring is born at the right moment
I slowed down the camera of life as if to freeze each frame, and savor the beauty of each of and all of those buds ready to come alive, at any moment; at what would be the right moment. The stark landscape of seemingly bare branches was a beautiful backdrop to life and spring being born.
Awe comes from mindfulness
I felt awe to be present to those precise moments, and witnessed spring’s unfolding in a different way than I experience it here in California where things are usually lush and green year-round. I was witness to a single leaf’s birth and it’s slow unfolding, many times over, by simply being more mindful on my walk. Being more present meant my experience was richer, more alive.
Deepen your Mindfulness with Listening
You might wonder what all of this has to do with listening? I have deepened my own mindful practice recently by listening more to what is. And listening with my whole body, all of my senses, my whole heart, especially to the earth and its gift of nature.
Start your day by listening
I have been awakened many mornings, not only by the sunrise orange golden light, but by a symphony of birds singing. Tweets, songs, calls, chatter, hoots, whistles, chirps, coos, conversations from all the birds singing praises. When I listen to the sounds of nature, I start my day with a sense of gratitude.
I listened in on my walk, to the earth, as my feet touched it with each step. I heard the leaves rustle in the gentle breeze; the squish of my shoe in a left over rain puddle; the crunch of walking on gravel; the strength of the rocks laying in the yard; the sound of the earth’s silence. When I listen to the earth’s presence, I can hear my own center.
Try listening to the earth and experience more calm.
You might try listening to the earth and all of its nuances as a way of accessing some calm and peace in your life. Go outside and close your eyes – just listen to the sounds of nature. See if you feel your heart beat slow down a bit. Open your eyes and really see the beauty around you – take it in with all of your senses, and listen to the sounds associated with that beauty. Hear what you’ve never noticed before. Listen to the earth.
Nature is always there
Nature is earth’s gift to us. Connecting to nature is a pretty powerful way to help yourself find your own calm – at the end of a stressful day, when you can’t seem to quiet your mind, when you’re having some conflict with your teen or tween. Take a walk on the earth with your child, your teen, your partner, your friend, or just take yourself and listen to the beauty and feel the awe.
Watch for future posts on listening. To your teen, to your partner, to yourself, to the sounds around you and the sounds within you. This is one of a series of posts on how to develop your listening skills so you can become more present in your every day life.
For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.