A few years ago as part of my GIM training program, our class participated in a sweat lodge. Since another woman and I would not be going into the actual lodge during the sweat, we had a bench placed several yards away. It was on the edge of a pond where we could pray and send positive energy towards the lodge while the rest of the group was inside. Because it was slightly chilly that particular day in early April, we brought along a thermos of hot tea and a large blanket to cover us. As we settled into our space on the bench, the rest of the group prepared and entered the lodge. While it was far enough away that we could hear their murmurs inside, it was not close enough that we could understand anything being said. For the most part, the wooded area was quiet.
Well, almost. It was quiet in the sense that there were no man-made sounds like cell phones or even cars. And after several minutes I discovered that it wasn’t really quiet at all. There was a slight breeze, and I kept hearing this odd click-clacking sort of sound. It took me a few minutes to discern that the sound was coming from the pine trees across the pond. The gentle breeze was strong enough to make the tall pine trees sway back and forth. And as they did, their limbs and trunks bumping against each other made that click-clack sound. I became mesmerized by watching those trees sway in the wind. Any other day and I’m confident I wouldn’t have stopped long enough, or been quiet enough, to notice.
So why am I telling you about it?
Although this experience occurred a few years ago, remembering it on a regular basis reminds me to be more present in my daily life now. To take the time to sit and be still and quiet. To become gradually aware of what’s going on around me– the smell of the air, the sound of the birds, the changes in the trees and flowers in my yard, the way the clouds puff up late in the summer afternoon, the flight pattern of a wasp. The beauty of this meditation practice in being present is that it doesn’t take very long– a few minutes at a time, a few times a day.
So next time you find yourself staring out the office window (or maybe on your lunch break), take that moment to practice this meditation. Notice what’s out there. Pay close attention to the details of what you see. Use all your senses to observe what happens. This isn’t a moment for action. It’s a moment of simple observation and being present. And after 2-3 minutes, breathe deeply and go back to your day. It’s that easy.
Research has proven the benefits of meditation for decreasing stress and anxiety, improving general mood, and decreasing feelings of depression. The key is practicing mindfulness regularly. And it’s relatively quick, easy, free (!!), and can be done almost anywhere. So what’s stopping you??
If you want personal help in this area, or are interested in how music can assist you in improving your life– give me a call or send me an e-mail. Contact me anytime. I’ll be happy to talk to you about it!