"A world of dew,
And within every dewdrop
A world of struggle."
-- Kobayashi Issa
It's the end of the working week. Perhaps it's me, but one day feels like the rest — a Monday could be a Saturday and a Sunday a Wednesday.
I'm here again, early.
Is this my new normal? If I'm forced to return to the office — the Gods are massing in that direction (I've not yet had my heart-to-heart) — I hope I can continue the same routine; it's something I enjoy, knowing that creatively I'm being (oh, how I hate the word) productive. I should just say, I'm managing to write and leave it at that.
What of it?
Well, of late, and as part of my walk with Alfie (Alf), I've taken to spending a period of time either sitting or standing mostly in the same place to meditate. It started off as no more than a wish not to rush through my walk — a route march as my wife would say — and take in all of nature's blessing.
Now, it's more deliberate but the technique, if you can call it that, has affected the way I meditate; namely, I now go through all my senses — smell, taste, seeing, touching and feelings/emotions — and calibrate those and take in all that my location offers.
Take one aspect of this (and I don't time myself), I'll look around me, slowly, deliberately and then I'll pick a spot — typically the flow of the river — and 'see' what's happening. I also look close and afar and generally let my eyes adjust to and take in the myriad of colours. I do this with the balance of my senses and normally end up finding one thing to look up at and spend the rest of time breathing very slowly and by then Alf is ready for the off and so we finish the walk before returning home.
For the time that I'm sat still if I feel myself drifting off, thinking about the day's events or work or whatever has stuck from the previous day, internally and silently I whisper to myself, "stay". It's not a harsh "stay" but in doing this it ensures that my mind — always my mind — stays with the present moment.
I'm not going to spoil my meditation by trying to explain everything I sense but, certainly, there have been times where I've been flooded with a deep, emotional connection which has brought me close to tears. I feel held; I feel listened to; and of course, nature is not judging. She's there in all her majesty.
In sharing these few words, I'm not exhorting that everyone who is able to explore nature tries something similar. Not at all, but if you've got a meditation practice or are thinking of starting one, my experience tells me that the more natural we can make it the more likely it is we'll continue the practice. Oh sure, there are some people who enjoy a very formal practice but in going down that route, and I speak personally, I found that rather than dropping my competitive spirit it was beginning to infuse my practice. And that's not a good thing. Also, in sitting this way, I've no aim: I do it because I do it.
Now, if you're stuck indoors and have no way of getting close to nature all of this looks vainglorious — and for that I sincerely apologise — but even surrounding yourself with a few flowers, or plants and playing, yes, some rain or similar sounding music, might be worth exploring. Then again, it might not. With any meditation practice, being present to the moment, slowing down and being at peace is far more important than glorifying nature. In my case, as I've already said, when I do sit inside, I've an old chair and a cushion and that's it. My view, if I don't close my eyes, is some unappealing pink carpet. But that's not really the point. The point is to breathe and recognise you're here, you're alive and if that's not something to be grateful for then I don't know what is.
If you don't meditate and don't know what all the fuss is about then that's fine but I'm convinced that this pandemic has forced people to slow down and find things to connect with that might have lain dormant for a few years. And that may be just as nourishing of the soul as my sojourn with nature.