Early one morning last weekend, we hid chocolate eggs in the garden ready for children to take part in an egg hunt at a party. An hour before the party, to our complete surprise, we saw a fox running across the lawn with one of the eggs in her mouth. Minutes later she returned carrying yet another egg. She then proceeded to track down nearly all the eggs in the garden, carefully discarding the wrappers before eating the chocolate. She was a beautiful, healthy but clearly hungry lactating vixen. Her primal drive to find food was so strong that she risked coming within feet of me. It felt a privilege to be witness to this experience as our worlds intertwined in the connectedness of all things. A mindful moment with nature.
This close up encounter with this urban fox felt quite exciting and the longer I watched her the more I entered her world and my own being.
I felt compassion for her as we stood face to face – mother to mother – sentient being to sentient being – with the same primal instincts of survival and caring for our young. It was a mindful moment indeed. A mindful nature moment. Interesting and also a timely moment, as I’m currently preparing for Mindfulness Association nature themed Level 1 training at Samye Ling next weekend with Kristine.
That morning I had just read the following quote by Eckhart Tolle, which described how this mindful encounter stopped the party preparations in their tracks as we all paused to take in the wonder of nature.
“To bring your attention to a stone, a tree or an animal does not mean to think about it, but simply to perceive it, to hold it in your awareness. You can sense how still it is, and in doing so the same stillness arises within you…You sense how deeply it rests in Being – completely at one with what it is and where it is. in realising this, you too come to a place of rest deep within yourself.”Eckhart Tolle – Silence Speaks in Awake in the Wild (Mark Coleman, 2010).
Unexpected encounters with wild animals can stir a sense of love and appreciation for the natural world. Coleman explains that we wouldn’t respond in such a warm way if we were particularly wanting something out of the experience. Instead, this unanticipated meeting with the fox, entering our party world, had naturally provided us with a sense of curiosity and wonder without even trying.
With the fox there was no sense of reason and rational responses. She was totally driven by her instincts and habitual reactions in order to survive in the only way she knew.
She was fast and darted quickly across the garden. Taking chances to grab food and then run off, returning again and again to hunt the chocolate eggs, once she realised, she was safe. She came closer and closer each time. Finally, she came within just a couple of feet from where I sat with my camera and I was able to get a deeper insight into her being.
Later that evening, with the party over, I felt very excited as I looked through the photographs I had taken of her. For me, capturing wildlife with a zoom lens provides me with a microcosmic view of the world. It enables me to see detail I cannot normally see.
I loved the multi layered, rusty red shades of her fur. Fascinated by her black socks of fur on her legs, I noticed all the shades of colour on her from creamy white to brown and black. That long bushy white tipped tail, so typical fox, almost as long as her body. Her eyes are beautiful and deep and yet, in a way, no different from my own. I love that there are fine white hairs lining her big ears which are designed to hear sounds beyond my sense of hearing.
We were transfixed with our awareness of fox. Thirty minutes had passed, and we realised we needed to get back to our preparations. As if she sensed this, the fox took a slice of cheese we had thrown for her and trotted off to the back of the garden. I haven’t seen her since but her being has entered my being. I think of her every day and send her, and her little unseen cubs, kind wishes for their wellbeing. It’s amazing how this chance encounter has affected me and the gift of warmth that her presence gave me. I am filled with gratitude for this enriching experience.
Note: Whilst I have been alerted to the fact that chocolate can be potentially unsuitable for canines, I did check in with a wildlife expert friend of mine at the time and he reassured me that this small amount would not be harmful. We did tempt the fox with cheese (which she loved) so we could retrieve any remaining chocolate eggs.
This week’s challenge is to take a moment in nature and notice the small things. Bring your attention to a flower, a tree or an animal bird and perceive it with a sense of curiosity and hold it in your awareness. See what you notice.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Please leave me a comment below or email me at email@example.com
Coleman, M., 2010. Awake in the wild: Mindfulness in nature as a path of self-discovery. New World Library.
Tolle, E., 2003. Stillness speaks. New World Library.