Monday, 17 March 2008

The "Anywhere" meditation

After a snowfall of about 10 cm (about 4 inches) earlier this weekend, Sunday dawned all sunny and inviting. It was quite chilly, but the blue sky enticed us outside anyway, to get some fresh air and do some outside chores. The two main jobs were shoveling snow, and filling up the bird feeders. Gord offered to start shoveling, while I took care of feeding the birds. This was a great arrangement -- I'm sure I got the better deal! So off I went down the snowy path, with peanuts, black oil sunflower seeds, and niger seed in my trusty bucket. And my camera in my pocket.

I filled the peanut feeder first, and after I hung it back up in its spot, a bunch of chickadees started gathering around in the trees, looking down at me. It was like they were saying, "What'cha doing lady? Whatever it is, just hurry up and leave so we can eat!" But, they were so cute I had to just stand there for a while and watch them. I stayed still and just listened and watched. Pretty soon some of the braver and less patient chickadees just flew down and landed on the peanut feeder, which was only about two feet away from my head. One bird would peck and grab a peanut, and then fly up to a nearby branch and eat it, leaving room for the next next bird to land on the feeder and get a snack.

I stood there with my camera, snapping pictures now and then, for about 10 minutes or so, maybe longer. I marveled at how close to me the birds would fly and land. I could easily see their little black eyes and their cute beaks. I could hear their different songs and sounds, and was even close enough to see which bird was singing when. I just stood there and smiled, taking in the light and warmth of the sun, and the birdsong.

When I came back into the house later (after pitching in with the shoveling!) I realized that moments like these are what my Meditation Made Easy book calls the basis of the meditative experience. It is that direct sensory awareness, that immediate connection to one's surroundings in the present moment which is the fundamental ingredient to meditation and why it can occur anywhere, anytime, in many forms. You don't need a special room or cushion or pose or posture, just a period of open and mindful awareness.

Since moving to "the country" a few years ago I've been more appreciative of being able to go outside and watch the birds and the trees and the bugs and the flowers. It was in those times that I felt the connection to the planet and the Oneness of all things most deeply. I guess I've been meditating all this time and didn't even know it!

When I see the birds and the sky
I vow with all Beings
To be grateful and treat the Earth kindly,
Along with its myriad inhabitants.


DC said...

This is a good approach. If meditation is only something that happens in a room, on a mat, for a set period of time, it has limited usefulness. It can be helpful to have a quiet place to meditate and a regular time to do so, but it's important not to confine meditation to formal practice. Observing nature and allowing oneself to be completely absorbed in it is a wonderful way to bring meditation into active, daily life. Even things as simple as gazing deliberately at a houseplant or focusing intently on water as it runs over our hands while washing them can turn us within. The most mundane tasks can become joyful when we become completely absorbed in them and thought ceases.

Theresa said...

And I think knowing this now will actually help me when I do sit down on my pile of pillows and intentionally meditate, because now I know the state of mind I'm trying to cultivate!

Anonymous said...

In the city the chickadees will land in your hand to eat seed. They are spoiled by the tourists, lol. Anyways, I loved this post. I've never done meditation and your words made me feel like maybe I got a glimmer of understanding about what it really means. I try to do that (just be present with things) at least once a day so perhaps I am doing a form of meditation and didn't even know it!

Theresa said...

I think you probably are, RA!

Meditation is a new thing for me. I come from a background where praying was common, but meditating was unheard of. I still pray, but I like meditating as a counterpart to it. Praying seems more like talking, and meditating is like listening. They are both helpful, I think.

Chile said...

That's lovely, Theresa. Every now and then, I will click into that Zen-like space when doing something and it feels wonderful.