Last week I was listening to fellow mindfulness practitioners on Fay’s Wonder of the Everyday course. It was interesting to hear that many people found it easier to be mindful in their everyday life when they were outdoors. I wondered if I felt this too.
So this week I considered this and noticed immediately that before I can even get outdoors I have to first contend with thoughts thrown up by my mind which restrict and limit me. My mind gives me reasons to resist my intention to go for a walk. The weather seems to have been a major factor fuelling my resistance, I ask myself what is it about the bodily sensations of bad weather that I find so difficult to accept? Wind on my face? The feeling of rain on my skin? The noise of the howling wind – am I scared? I couldn’t really put my finger on anything solid. The truth is when I am out in the elements I feel so alive – rain and wind both wake me up and I feel very much a part of this wonderful planet – I’m a creature on a planet – however the deskjob me is another creature altogether – very much like a rabbit in a hutch, which has given up trying to get out. Different aspects to myself. Interesting.
It seems that our houses are places of habit – everywhere we look we are reminded of things to do and during lockdown, we seem to be stuck indoors with our habits!
This blinds us to the wonder of the everyday. Lucky that we can change our habits and develop new beneficial ones with practice. If only I could get out the door without this unnecessary inner battle! If I could just rest in that equanimity of ‘one taste’ (I think Akong Rinpoche called it) a place where I can reside beyond the external sense perceptions – in that place of inperturbable inner calm….
I celebrate the noticing. (yay! Noticing!) But I still can’t seem to get myself enthusiastic about getting over the threshold for a walk. I have turned it into Something That Should Be Done which triggers resistance. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche would call this resistance (to anything) a log for my fire. I throw the log of resistance onto my fire of Mindfulness hoping for some light and warmth. The log throws some light onto more subtle energies beneath the resistance. I find more logs! Stress is there. Stress, like molasses is a dark and sticky thing, hard to get out of, it keeps me stuck in work mode and home obligations – this is harder to extricate myself from. So this week I learned that stress stops me from looking after myself. Stress needs deeper contemplation, there will be more logs under that one for sure. It seems to manifest in my life in so many ways. I am looking forward to the continued unravelling of my conditioning. I know for sure that armed with compassion, I can face up to anything. Resistance is usually hiding a can of worms! I am beginning to learn that art combined with mindfulness can provide a gentle pathway towards insight.
One subtle thought that I picked up tells me that the walk from my door, is boring. I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t mind talking about it again, because let’s face it – being mindful once, and noticing the thought once, doesn’t seem to resolve it once and for all, does it? My mind is a machine of habit and much to my disappointment – this is ongoing work, without end! Mindfulness is a practice and acceptance is at the root of it. Rob Nairn says that we can set an intention to do one thing, and before we know it a deeper and stronger intention has overpowered it. This can be so deflating I know this from trying to diet, or cut down on my consumption of wine! The only way to work with this is to keep setting intention, remind myself of my motivation and to continue to practice mindfulness.
The ‘fact’ that the walk is ‘boring’ is delivered to my consciousness with authority. If I am busy in doing mode then this can pass beneath my mindfulness radar and I believe its story. I just need to notice the resistance, label it as ‘thinking’ as I put my coat on and open the door! It’s just a thought and I don’t need to believe it! I live in rural Wales where the scenery and country lane walks are definitely never boring. Walking outdoors helps me in body and mind, and if I can practice mindfulness while I walk each day then I am much more likely to be able to bring that practice back indoors with me. Bringing something back from a mindful walk like a branch or a pebble that catches my eye can help to connect me with my mindfulness in nature.
An interesting and inspiring motivation emerged from the conversations around being more mindful outdoors and then subsequently indoors. Many people are finding that taking photographs outdoors is helping them to find a different kind of connection to mindfulness and to their surroundings; paying attention, noticing the detail. When we walk mindfully – the world opens up to us. Perhaps we could try this within our homes too; we tend to take our homes for granted – maybe walk around your home with beginner’s mind, draw, photograph or paint something that catches your eye. Notice the changes out of one window. We’d love you to share your mindful creative moments in whichever form they take with us on our facebook page, or email them to us – we’d love to see them.
I hope you feel inspired too.
Have a good week,
Warm wishes to you.