At the weekend I attended the Engaged Mindfulness Course at the beautiful venue of Samye Ling deep in the Dumfriesshire countryside.
It was a wonderful weekend reconnecting with my practice, nature and this planet earth.
During the weekend Kristine, one of the lead tutors, asked us to recall a recent moment when we felt fully alive with a sense of gratitude. Being led through this reflection and the practice of ‘taking in the good’ reminded me just how important these moments are for our wellbeing.
Last week I was in Sweden for a few days. Flying back to London during the afternoon I noticed an aura of golden light on the edge of the earth. It lifted me out of all the thoughts in my mind and reminded me that I was just a minuscule part of this beautiful planet. And yet, often I appear to be so big and the centre of everything when my mind takes over.
As I looked closer, entranced by the view, I could almost see the curve of the world. I had a deep sense of looking into it our world. When I looked down, I could see the vastness of the sea beneath me. This gave me a deep sense of appreciation and I became aware of a feeling of happiness and appreciation flood through my body with a sense of warmth and awe.
A few days later, whilst travelling to Samye Ling late in the afternoon I had a sense of looking out from the world into the universe. As the sun set, seemingly faster than usual, the sky turned from a beautiful sapphire colour to black. My gaze was drawn out, rather than in as on the flight. Faint small lights began to appear in the sky as it became darker until the sky was full of bright stars and constellations. I could even make out the milky way. This is a rare occurrence for me as I live in a big town where the light pollution allows me to see just half of the amazing array of stars before me.
On leaving Samye Ling early Monday morning, the moon was shining in a deep indigo sky. The stars were beginning to fade and there was a deep, cold frost freezing the landscape into icy stillness in a moment in time from the night. The car temperature gauge informed me that it was almost minus seven degrees and the windows were covered in thick ice. It reminded me of moments of joy as a child when I woke up to the amazing patterns of frost on the windows of my bedroom.
As I travelled across the landscape, the sun started to colour the sky with an aura of gold and orange. The colours of the landscape as the rising sun started to catch the icy vegetation and fields, I am struggling to put into words. It was like a wondrous rich changing tapestry of autumn colours and textures, melting into winter. It left me with a big smile on my face and a feeling of warmth and wonder for the rest of the day.
These profound moments of looking out from, looking into and being in our world reminded me how to take in these precious moments of goodness.
I realise that even before I started training in mindfulness, I always used beautiful moments in nature, be it the sunrise or sun set, the landscape and trees or sea, to uplift my spirits despite whatever was going on in my life. Even in very difficult times, an appreciation for nature and ‘taking in the good’ has always sustained me and made me grateful to be alive.
Taking in the Good is a practice developed by Rick Hanson. We include it in our Compassion training. It encourages us to notice the positive things around us, take time to appreciate them and then absorb the positive experience it provides us.
I invite you to recall a special moment, or two, when you were inspired by the beauty of nature. A moment when you felt fully alive and appreciative. A moment of taking in the good.
How did this experience affect you? Did you notice any sensations in the body? How were your emotions impacted?
I now invite you to become aware of any inspiring moments as the week unfolds, when you have the opportunity to relish in the beauty of nature.
You might like to go through Rick Hansons Taking in the Good Practice by following these three steps:
- tune in –notice positive things around you –this is like lighting a fire
- enrich –spend some time appreciating these things –this is like adding wood to the fire
- take in the good –actively absorb the positive experience –this is like receiving the warmth of the fire
We would love to hear your experience, so please share by commenting below this post or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacky will be co-teaching Level 1 – Being Present with Alan Hughes at Samye Ling 13 – 15 March 2020 and on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling Summer 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.