During the middle stage of a meditation walk (the “holding the silence” phase) I will sometimes use this time to allow a most perfect picture to come to me. This is unlike vacation photos where we try to capture the essence of a trip through a multitude of photos – where getting a good shot can take precedence over being fully present to the event/environment itself. This is about being fully present, without searching for a “photo op” and instead staying open to what our surroundings reveal to us in due time and without fanfare. These are more like “oh my” moments that “wooo-hooo” moments.
During this phase, keep yourself focused on the here and now – your pathway, your breath. But also ask to be open to anything in the environment that would make you glad that you stopped and absorbed a moment in more detail. Although I use a small digital camera for photos, you could use your cell phone camera; or, if sans camera, you can take a mental picture by outlining a virtual frame using your two index fingers and thumbs to form a square. Give yourself permission to take up to three pictures, which allows you plenty of silent time along a trail – fewer pictures and your focus disappears too early; more pictures and your walk turns into a photo expedition. I have found that focusing on my walk and allowing my peripheral vision to bring something into focus works best. And, I photograph objects “as they are” – leaving the object, background, shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns unchanged.
The end result is a sense of slo-mo walking, an appreciation for the diversity of life, and an increased sense of awe in the minute details that surround us.
Whenever I think about my favorite hiking spots, not only do I remember my favorite trails, but I also remember my favorite trees. How is it, or perhaps more poignantly, why is it that my mind has this need to identify a specific tree in each location? Or, what is it about a given tree that even puts it on my radar? Here are some of my favorite trees from different trails in the Raleigh, NC area:
I’m undecided if it’s uniqueness or a sense-of-art that brackets my tree choices. But, what I do know is that while I’m ‘connected’ with my trees I feel a sense of wonder and joy and freedom. And, I couldn’t tell you a thing about what type of tree any of these are, because in the moment of connecting it’s all about a hearty ooh-ahh feeling rather than a heady bing.com description!
Trees locations (in order of appearance): 1) Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve (Swift Creek Loop Trail), Cary, NC; 2) Umstead State Park, US-70 entrance (Sycamore Trail), Raleigh, NC; 3) Umstead State Park, I-40/Harrison Ave. entrance (Company Mill Trail), Raleigh, NC; 4) Hinshaw Greenway, Cary, NC; and, 5) Lake Crabtree County Park (Lake Trail), Morrisville, NC.
Posted in Let me say THIS about THAT
Tagged Cary, favorite trees, greenways, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, hike, Hinshaw Greenway, Lake Crabtree County Park, Leslie Gernon, NC, outdoors, photography, Raleigh, trails, tree photographs, trees, Umstead State Park, walk
I can’t say that I spend a lot of time cooking, but I can say that I spend a lot time making sure that our pantry and fridge are filled with healthful choices. For me, I often eat foods just as they are (e.g., slices of apples and yogurt for breakfast) or I throw together several ingredients that go well together – what I call “assemblies.” I’m even one of those who puts together my food bag for a day at work (morning snack, light lunch, afternoon snack) because I want to eat healthy, tasty foods. And more importantly, since I usually eat somewhat mindlessly at my desk (since I use my actual lunch hour for walking or errands) I interject my mindfulness the night before as part of what I pack and how I pack it. Thus, I mindlessly eat my mindfully packed foods.
In the kitchen, I’ve come to realize that eating healthy means buying fresh veggies and fruits (usually seasonal and local); and, in doing so I then have a relationship with them (checking ripeness, eating while fresh) and an amazing mindfulness practice in its own right. I cannot count the number of times that I have gone “unconscious” in the past – forgetting about the fruit ripening on the counter or the veggies stored in the crisper drawer in the fridge – only to “awaken” several days later to over-ripe bananas and too-dead-to-use broccoli. Last month I bought a compost bin to help alleviate some of the guilt of wasted produce. Knowing that my discards now transition back into the circle-of-life has on the one hand eased my regrets whenever I lose my stream of consciousness, and on the other hand increased my level of consciousness so that this rarely happens. And, I don’t even have a garden – yet!
What ways have you found to become more conscious of your food, your cooking, your eating?
Thanks to Graham Reznick “aphasia films” (Flickr) for the banana photo; and, thanks to Richard Tanswell “richiesoft” for the compost bin photo.