Reality Emerges from Stillness

I had one of those 2+2 moments yesterday when something simple yet powerful, that should have been so obvious, came together. But first, a quick bit of context. When guests stay over here, whether airbnb renters or friends visiting, they often ask if they will see wildlife on the property. My usual answer is to quip that all kinds of wildlife will see certainly see them, but if they want to see wildlife the best strategy is this:

Stop walking. Stop talking. Stop eating or drinking. Definitely stop fiddling with your smartphone. And then once stop has been more-or-less accomplished the other step is to wait. A great place to do such a thing is standing or sitting against a tree or maybe a large rock that fits you just right, or if you’re picky about your outdoor comfort bring along a little trail seat or blanket.

Wherever you stop, you don’t need to be camouflaged or “invisible” (though ideally not blindingly obvious or wide out in the open), and while you do need to be still it’s not like you have to be frozen. And then it’s just a matter of patience. I tell guests I will almost guarantee them that within 5-10 minutes of “stop” they will begin to hear some bird noise resume and not too long after that some sounds of animal movement within the forest should be apparent. It could be the delicate sound of small mammals like mice and squirrels scurrying about. It might be a porcupine or raccoon descending a tree. Or even the sound of snapping twigs as larger animals like deer begin once again to step gingerly through the forest.

They’ve all been watching you move into their space. And most are still aware you’re there. But once you stop, settle, and stay that way, they will eventually resume their daily business until they sense the next threat. Over and above the wildlife, since you are now in stop mode you may also tune into your senses and notice subtle sounds, smells, sights and more in the environment all around you. (This process is also the foundation for what is known as the “Sit Spot” exercise, one of the most commonly used “Invitations” in forest therapy practice.).

When you stop, settle, open your awareness and observe, nature reveals itself to you in layers you rarely if ever experience while on the move. It just takes a bit of discipline (to truly and fully “stop”) and and patience. So, the 2+2 moment I had was seeing the obvious parallel between this and meditation.

Meditation is not about ridding the mind of thoughts so much as it is about attempting to observe them without disturbing or interacting with them. And, though the concept of what is meditation is becoming more broadly interpreted, it usually begins with quieting oneself—sitting in a way that is comfortable yet alert, limiting outer movement, which leads to reduction of internal movement—and then observing what comes along. It’s really that simple: a bit of discipline, a dose of patience, practice and repeat. And, like nature, with time the observation may reveal extraordinary things both small and large.

Meditation changes your consciousness. The type of consciousness that emerges depends on the meditation. Your consciousness in turn colors your perceptions of the world around you. There is no such thing as objective reality. You color everything.

from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao

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