|Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail|
In everyone’s life we are presented with an ever-increasing constant stream of information to consider that at sometimes seems overwhelming. Advertisers compete for our attention; political ads are non-stop, and sometimes all we want to do is relax and unwind after work by watching our favorite programs or sink into our favorite hobbies. We cannot escape the mindless chatter unless we choose to see it with a different lens. What we can do is see it from a different vantage point by recognizing the power of mindfulness especially in stressful times. Being mindful is a choice that can help us understand inevitable change.
We are embracing the beginning of Fall which happens to be my favorite season. I look forward to the cooler evenings and watching the leaves change color. Perhaps during this pandemic our schedules have shifted towards working from home and the byproduct of that paradigm shift is that we are noticing subtle changes around us. Before COVID-19, we hurried to our jobs and anticipated returning to our homes at the end of the day. We were completely unaware of the rhythms of our neighborhood and how the sights and sounds would either be welcome or annoy us. Maybe our neighbor’s TV is on too loud and it keeps us awake at night, or their dog barks nonstop. Now that we are home and our daily routine has shifted, we can start our day in our back yard with our first cup of coffee and listen to the morning birds sing. Because our vantage point changed, so to is our opportunity to experience life differently.
Just like the natural cycle of the four seasons, we have adapted to the subtle changes that makes each one unique. This summer we experienced extreme heat and although summertime represents vacations, sun, and fun, I was ready for Autumn to arrive. I could not force Autumn appear ahead of schedule, so I had to remind myself to be patient and mindful about how to accept the annual process and prepare for the Fall. When I slow it down and listen to the clues from nature, it teaches me to not force it, the same applies to inner mind and emotional wellness. I find myself longing for the first rainy day of the season to clean the air and nourish my garden. I know there are those who view a rainy day as an impediment or an excuse not to get out and enjoy themselves. I chuckle and say, “it’s only water and we need every drop.” Being mindful helps us embrace or transition to the change that is inevitable in nature. Fall leaves drop in anticipation of winter when trees go dormant to replenish for the following Spring. You can count on nature to perform on cue just like the rising of the sun and moon. When we pay attention to the clues and practice mindfulness, it helps us navigate the occasional disturbances we will face.
The world-wide pandemic has forced us to isolate from our friends and family when we need each other the most. Accepting that painful separation can be a daily challenge. We have had to embrace the limitations of not visiting our loved ones in the hospital and be left with just a phone call or face time to stay connected. By nature, we want to be loving, caring and supportive of our loved ones and be by their side for support so that they do not have to be alone during difficult times. We can either complain, which changes nothing, or we can practice mindfulness and love and support each other from afar. This has been by far, the most difficult outcome of isolating during the pandemic. I can either choose to feel sorry for myself or I can decide to do the next best thing, reach out and connect with my loved ones so that I can hear their voice and hopefully make them smile. Joy and sadness are two sides of the same coin. They are emotions that we experience, but they can be fleeting and eventually evaporate. We can stop trying to avoid pain when it knocks on our door by embracing it as temporary without fighting it. Trying to ignore our emotions does not let them breath and have their moment. Our emotions are fluid and we certainly can acknowledge joy even in sorrow which is why tears through laughter can be so healing. We instinctively know that we cannot be happy 100% of the time because that is unrealistic, exhausting, and unsustainable. While witnessing this year’s devastating season of wildfires, we were reminded daily of the acres burnt and grieve for the families that lost everything. But in practice, fires are an important part of the forest natural cycle. Some trees like the majestic Sequoias need the flames heat to release their seeds and replenish the forest floor.
By practicing mindfulness, we can train our minds to be less affected by emotion, trust the wisdom of its temporary nature, ride it, and watch the emotion unfold without trying to change it. As your mindfulness practice builds and becomes a familiar friend, you will see the intrinsic wisdom of your emotions, which often provide useful information. Practicing mindfulness fosters your ability to observe and listen to your emotions, tap into their inherent wisdom so that they can become a useful tool when emotional pain presents itself. Although fleeting, emotions often provide important information about how we observe life.
I embrace mindfulness by meditating daily in my garden sanctuary. How do you practice mindfulness? Please comment below.
|Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail|
Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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