Lao Tzu wrote, “When the harmony of yin and yang is perfect, a bird can sit on your hand without being afraid.”
My uncle Bob’s bird “Birdie” sits on his shoulder and flies outside during the day. They live in Maui among the pineapple fields. He is indeed a very still human – a native Hawaiian.
What a magnificent quality – to possess stillness that draws the natural world to you.
Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.
If you walk through nature with quiet foot falls, wildlife will draw ever closer.
Birds will land close by. Deer may not run. Rabbits will sit and stare.
By sitting still in a garden or woodland area, nature sounds amplify. No matter what season, if engaged, nature sounds cut through the silence.
It took some time to photograph the two crows who come daily to drink from the water out front. I watched the duo excitedly for many days, and as I moved to lift the camera they would fly away.
Maintaining our stillness, magic is often found as animals draw near.
Mary Oliver spent her life observing nature and reflecting on the ties we have with the natural world.
Nature is a constant – surrounding and enfolding our lives,
no matter if we are in the city, or the country.
It elevates the spirit and is a grounding touch stone of beauty and balance.
Mary inspires the contemplative observation of nature with her opening words:
I see or hear
that more or less
"Mindful" by Mary Oliver
I see or hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
In the August 7th post we covered the foundation of a Mindfulness life using meditation as the book ends to the day: (Funnel Diagram Below)
As we move up the funnel diagram from the sitting meditation, the next step upon leaving the sit practice and venturing into the day is to expand the foundational inner awareness outward.
Stepping out your door you can observe the sights, sounds, smells, textures and movement going on around you.
Leaving the house, move up the funnel to the third level as our sight begins to sharpen. Continue to hold inner awareness in the body, while next observing the outer world.
Through the day play with this inner check in; while expanding outer awareness and art making.
Visually, you will discover a new world to explore and photograph each day as your awareness sharpens and you establish the rooted dance between your inner and outer worlds.
At the base of the funnel (found in the last blog post article diagram) of Mindfulness, resides a sitting meditation practice. This establishes the grounded
root each day in as little as 5-30 minutes; morning &/or evening.
You can get started and continue a practice with simple instructions on your own.
Here are two meditation techniques that can take you the distance and can be used together or alone:
“So” Inhale and “Hum” exhale.
Another mantra that is taught to be the sound of creation or manifestation in the universe,
Is “Aum, or Om.” Noted as the vibration of universal consciousness. Using this mantra, center your awareness in the 3rd eye chakra (located in the middle and slightly above the eyebrows,) or at the crown chakra (center top of head.)
There are multitudes of benefits to rooting your day in a consistent meditation practice, even 5 minutes a day two times a day.
Observe in yourself the changes that arise as you show up for your daily practice.
Keep it simple.
The most important thing is showing up every day. The practice is the key to unlocking the door.
In the last post we discussed how “mindfulness” is found in various techniques, from the sitting practice of mindfulness meditation, to daily life techniques.
In the following diagram, I have illustrated how the positive effects of mindfulness have a cumulative effect if we begin to infuse them from a morning &/or evening meditation while expanding to mindfulness techniques throughout the day:
From the bottom of the funnel we lay the foundation; which can be as simple as a 5-30 minute meditation practice 1-2 times a day.
This is the time to clear the cobwebs and really expand Inwardly.
As we move up the funnel; we shift into a normal, usually busy day.
As we greet our family over coffee, we can step out on the back deck and begin to expand our inner awareness outward.
Silently we can observe the sights around us, listening to the crows flying overhead, while taking notice of the smells of toast burning inside the house (in my case that is,) while we watch for movement all around us.
Finally, throughout the day we can infuse the Wonder Compass mindfulness photography techniques as an ongoing practice.
The purpose is to root inwardly as well as outwardly with our attention.
The anchor is our breath awareness which we come back to,
over and over again,
as well as observing and photographing exclamation points
of beauty throughout the day.
To review some benefits of mindfulness; here are some key words that begin to infuse a life with
-Sharpening of Attention
-Self-Discernent & Inner Knowing
We can live in this state of constant wonder and child like joy,
if we simply decide
to Be that.
Have fun exploring today!
Mindfulness falls into two broader categories:
Why practice Mindfulness?
What’s the benefit?
-Improves your physical health
-Improves your mental health
-Improves emotional states
-Improves overall wellness, joy and contentment with life
Incorporating photography with mindfulness allows the observer to take the helm of the life being lived. We are watching our own experiences and patterns, but also softly and compassionately observing the world spinning around us. Certain objects, experiences, and events will draw us in as we capture that which sparks curiosity or enthusiasm with our camera.
It is a poke that says,
“Wake up! This is so cool!" Please, photograph this before we move on!
In that moment we sink deeply into present awareness. There is no monkey mind ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
As we observe and continue to orient to the present our vision while
creating art allows us to consistently return again and again to our lives and the beauty all around us. Every day, every moment, every experience becomes an adventure of seeing and experiencing the potential for creativity and rooting into the magnificence of each moment.
Yesterday my friend and I were heading to the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland for our first photographic adventure together.
It turns out that after parking we had a bit of a walk. Mindful of the busy city around us, I noticed how nature pops up out of dark shops while small or grand trees grow, despite a challenging urban environment. The sounds, the movement, the smells and the conversation filled me up as we strode up each street. The Lan Su garden ended up being very beautiful; a very urban and pristine presentation of nature.
However, I will remember the journey there and back as the focal point of the day. It is nature in its most un-obvious, hidden and obscure state that pulls me into the present moment while spending time in the city. In contrast with the hard edges and chaotic sounds and dynamism of downtown, a clematis vine winding its way up above your head, or a still breezy maple tree offer the opportunity to appreciate their presence, and our own present awareness inside this shared space. ∞