On a recent walk in the woods I noticed an eagle perched on the very top of a large tree. She was majestic. To get a better look I carefully and slowly took a few more steps towards her making sure I wouldn’t scare her away. The winged creature seemed curious and tilted her head to get a better look at me. As she stared back at me I felt a kind of connection with her and we simply beheld each other’s presence for some moments.
Then, I heard foot steps and noticed a young lady walking by on the trail. She squinted upwards to see why I was looking up at the tree.
“An eagle” I pointed up... “Ahh!” She quickly raised and pointed her phone camera to get a few shots. “Thanks” she grinned as she walked away and looked down at her phone to evaluate her photos and most likely share them with her social media friends.
I turned back towards the tree and the eagle was no longer there. I looked for her in other branches and in close by trees but she was gone.
What I shame, I thought. But the shame was not that the eagle was no longer there. Instead, sadness is what I felt when I reflected on that encounter.
I remembered that I had been unable to leave my phone at home when I went out. And when I began to practice being present in the "now" I realized how much I had missed on my walks because I always had my smartphone. I’m almost certain that I would not have noticed the eagle on that tree if I carried my telephone that day.
I felt sadness as I further reflected on that walk. The lady reminded me of me but I also felt the most sadness because the encounter represented so much of today’s society and world.
We are so wired to rush and get quick “fix-its” for instant gratification or soothing. In our rushing, true heart-to-heart connections are almost impossible. But to simply slow down and consider the present "now" has a positive impact.
To pause and observe requires a conscious decision to simply practice doing so. The more you pause with gentle attention, the easier it gets and the more beneficial it becomes in your day-to-day life.
I believe that humanity’s current crises are primarily caused by our rush and speed to always get somewhere but never actually arriving. Crises are caused by our lack of pause, a lack of mindful observation and our lack of consideration.
The “old-school” way of simply being present with one’s self, other people and our surroundings has morphed into constant screen time that mostly offers quick and superficial impressions.
Research has found that those constant impressions are potentially detrimental to our minds, emotions and relationships with others.
We are more worried about how we look on a screen than how we might relate to fellow human beings. Not to mention, our precious jewel that is severely threatened, Mother Earth Herself.
To “nurture in nature” or to have time in Mother Nature is one of my most common suggestions for clients. I also make a point to practice it daily.
You do not have to drive hours to reach the forest, beach or woods. Instead, it is sufficient to simply notice and touch a tree or a shrub, even an indoor plant. The point is to pause, to breathe with attention and simply notice.
To merely step outside and look at the sky can be therapeutic. The specific sky that you see in any given moment is one-of-a-kind, whether it contains clouds or not. You will never see this sky again. To deeply breathe and look up at the sky, even if for a moment, can help to experience the benefit of pausing with attention.
Furthermore, regardless if you look up at the sky, to pause and notice the sensation of your breath can offer relief and a sense of calm in the "now" moment.
No matter what you are doing and no matter where you are, pause and breathe with attention. It can help increase your awareness, impact your thought process and can even improve your mood.
We tend to take our breath for granted until it is challenged. And breathing with gentle attention for a few moments can change your whole day. The more you pause to breathe with caring attention the easier (and increasingly beneficial) it becomes.
You do not have to “meditate” a specific way or “pray” for a specific amount of time… you don’t even have to go outside to look up at the sky.
You are invited to become aware of your own presence in the “here” and “now”, always and in all places. Doing so helps to more fully experience life and even discover our unitive consciousness personally and with others.
Simply pause to consider your breath. You might want to place a hand on your chest to feel your breath. You can choose something to look at or you can close your eyes as you feel your breath going in and out of your chest.
If your eyes find something to gaze at just stay there for a moment or two. You might catch yourself without any thought for a split second or more. A blank mind can be such a nice break and there are many ways to learn how to practice it.
For instance, when was the last time you noticed the detailed lines and crevices in the palm of your hand? Or when have you paused to look into your own eyes in the mirror’s reflection? When have you observed your baby, pet or loved one taking a nap? Perhaps you notice that specific leaf seemingly dancing with the breeze as it blissfully hangs from the branch.
The invitation is to give attention and become more present to your self and to your life. I am convinced that to mindfully pause can be a remedy for racing minds and a true relief for stres.
My initial goal with this piece of writing was to talk about connecting with Mother Nature, with the title “Nurture in Nature”. I wanted to invite readers to connect more with our common home, a treasured and currently threatened planet Earth.
However, one can go camping alone in the middle of the wilderness but never get away from one’s racing thoughts. Connection to our selves, our surroundings and others is difficult when we are lost in thought.
Perhaps the new title is “Nurture Now” instead of “Nurture in Nature”.
The more I pause, the more I think it is a necessity and solution for so much.
To pause and consider allows us to address the things that need to change. It helps us to evolve as individuals and to learn how to honor and respect the Earth. We must pause and see the truth that Planet Earth does NOT belong to us. Instead, we belong to Mother Earth.
We are constantly surrounded by compassionate and benevolent breath. To pause gives us the choice to consider the gift of breath, and the gift of life itself.
No matter where we are or what we are doing, to nurture now with attentive breath can positively transform our experience.
May we pause to evolve as individuals and as a whole humanity, for our sake and the sake of Mother Earth.
May it be so.
May we be so.