I’ve had the sweet opportunity to care for my young grandson about once a week since he was a few months old. He’s almost 11 months old now and, though he fights getting into his stroller for our walks (he’s hip to the ruse of lulling him into taking a nap), once he’s strapped in, he seems to enjoy exploring the wonderland outside his usual domain. This is a northern suburb and many of the homes in the neighborhood are mid-century, built on large, wooded lots with an eye to preservation of the woods, marshes, ponds, lakes, and attendant wildlife.
I noticed on our walks during the previous few weeks a physical and perceptual barrier between myself and the life force of nature around me, partly because I was plugged up due to spring allergies, but also due to the physical armoring of contraction that my body uses to get through the winter. There was something else, though, another factor that took me awhile to identify. It was a sensory blockage that comes from spending a great deal of time indoors interacting with screens and listening to the sounds of dishwashers, heating systems, washers and dryers, and, by living in the city, being surrounded by the cacophony of cars, fire trucks, and general city noise.
Literally, it took several mindful walks to attune myself to the sounds of nature, including really being able to “hear” a level of quiet that is unavailable where I live. Yesterday, I finally finished thawing out. My grandson, who had succumbed to the stroller ruse, slept through most of the walk, but we spent time listening to the frogs and crickets, the wind rustling through the lilac trees and upon the water, a whole different rhythm of sound plus a visual field filled with natural movements. I felt something shift in my body and mental field. I settled. Some part of me that hardens during the contracting cold of this climate softened and I felt an aliveness in my body and mind that happens when I “remember” my true nature.
On an inner level, I think that something like the thawing out process occurs as a result of sitting meditation. The list of external stimuli in our lives is endless and you don’t need me to make a list for you. Without a means to check in with ourselves, we can easily stay frozen in a permanent state of inner winter, unable to soften and appreciate our lives fully and simply in the moment. For me, the “mindfulness” part of mindfulness meditation is remembering just that and taking the time to practice, whether it’s on the cushion or pushing my grandson’s stroller.
(Reposted with permission from lindalade.com)