By Deb Avery
“Not all who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
As the sun illuminates the water in the birdbath it sparkles more brilliantly than any diamond.
As I walk by on my morning walking meditation, I breathe the grace and beauty and breathe out gratitude; for I am grateful that I have learned to appreciate these moments of illumination more than the material worth and sparkle of gold and jewels.
For the past few months I have been wandering. But as in the quote above from the amazing Tolkien, I have not been lost. Instead I have found a new appreciation, gratitude and acceptance in myself and the world around me. We all go through times when we question, search and take a step back from society, social media, cell phones and the material things of life. It is a necessary journey for some us. It is as natural as breathing for me. And it is through this meandering journey inward,that I come out the other side with renewed hope, acceptance and appreciation of this human life I live.
In slowing down our minds and ourselves on this wandering and meandering journey, time itself seems to slow down. We begin to notice things that once escaped our distracted minds—each movement of the bird’s wings, each note of the birdsong and each sparkle from the sun becomes one with the breath and we can become one with all that is.
Even though I had read about and practiced mindfulness and meditation for many years, it was sometimes only through hardship that I learned the true meaning of living mindfully. For it was during these times that I truly stepped back, stopped trying to distract myself and turned my mind inward. And by doing so, by paying attention and being in the moment, I found the happiness that is inside us all, regardless of our circumstances.
But the past few times on this journey—this wandering—it was not because of any sudden hardship or outside circumstance.
These past few journeys have been a conscious undertaking of my own. A way to clear the windows of perception and find the joy, peace and happiness that is available at all times to those who are brave enough to wander to far reaching and sometimes uncharted territory.
Stepping away from the busyness and mindFULLness of today’s society and culture, is always the first step for me in finding my way home.
Today we are so busy multitasking that we let the moments get away from us. We miss the shape of the clouds floating overhead in the blue sky. We miss the moment when a lizard on the railing or tree makes eye contact and we realize—feel—the connection between ourselves and everything around us. We become so distracted that we don’t even stop to appreciate—to be mindful—of our own breath.
Have you ever talked to a lizard, insect or some other creature? Perhaps you’ve conversed with a tree? These are just two simple examples of moments of mindfulness. And mindfulness begins with slowing down to the cadence of our own breath. We do not need to wear robes and chant, although these are perfectly wonderful rituals that are suited for some. All we really need is our own consciousness and breath.
There is so much more than meets the eye in the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.”
No matter how complicated we make life and no matter how busy we think we are, there is magic, wonder, joy and beauty around us every second of the day. But we won’t be able to find it if we don’t look and learn to see.
The ability to do this simply takes conscious effort and right view, or perception. This is not something only available to monks or “gifted” people. It is available to us all. And it begins with the realization of the preciousness of our own breath in each and every moment.
Once we learn to fully appreciate the simplicity of this the world around us begins to shift and bloom like a rose. But it is in slow motion—this shifting and blooming process—so we must make an effort to slow down and learn to appreciate the beating of a hummingbird’s wings.
Perhaps you too would like to wander and meander among the moments of time. Don’t worry about getting lost. Sometimes that is how we find the way.
Editor: Dana Gornall