This week we will:
- Continue our mindfulness practice by connecting with the senses
- Keep nurturing our seeds (physical and metaphorical)
- Rediscover our hidden talents for exploring the world around us
Review of Week 1
Last week we introduced a breathing practice as way to start to connect with the idea that we are Nature. We are not separate from it and every aspect of our lives is governed by the laws of Nature. We explored the breath and how it continues without our conscious control – in fact, there are any number of complex processes occurring in our bodies that we could not begin to orchestrate ourselves – there is no way we could “think” our ribs and diaphragm into moving and drawing air into our bodies at the level of all the processes (nerve impulses and individual muscles contracting and so on) that have to happen for this to occur. The most we can do is to hold our breath for a short time or change the rhythm of our breathing. The point is that Nature takes over and takes care of the processes for us. We can also reflect on the cycles of breath and the way these mirror other cycles in Nature like the ebbing and flowing of waves on the seashore. So, in every moment we have an opportunity to connect with the wonder of Nature through our breath.
Optional Extra Activity
There is an entirely optional extra activity (the Tree Meditation), which builds on the breathing practice of week 1 and explores the interdependence of us and a tree – we breathe out carbon dioxide that the tree needs and breathe in the oxygen, which the tree provides. It can certainly be done indoors, but also outdoors with a tree if this is possible.
Activity for week 2: Noticing the weather
Spending lots of time indoors, it is easy to lose track of the weather and seasons. With heating and insulation and shelter from the rain, it is possible to be blissfully unaware of all but the most extreme weather conditions.
This activity is very simple. Each day, just take a few moments to notice what the weather is like outside your home (either by opening the window or stepping outside if the weather is not too extreme). Notice what senses you use to determine what the weather is like. Initially, it might be your vision, but do you use the feeling on your skin to detect the air temperature? Do you use hearing or feel for rain or wind? Notice if you are judging the weather as “good” or “bad.” Does your relationship to it change if you drop these labels?
You can extend this activity by asking yourself, if you didn’t know from the calendar etc – if you had just landed from another planet, whether you could tell what the season is or what time of day?
It is also good to acknowledge your own internal weather – in other words, what your general mood is. This is very much a light touch activity – just an overall impression of your mood (maybe you could describe this in terms of weather conditions (sunny, stormy, gloomy, changeable etc.) or the surface of a body of water (e.g. choppy, calm etc), not getting into any deep introspection and not judging how things should or shouldn’t be or wishing things were different. It is simply an exercise to acknowledge the feelings that are here and just to allow them to be here (like the clouds or rain or sunshine) – not trying to wish “negative” feelings away or trying to hold onto “positive” feelings.
Suggested journal or Facebook share: As before, you may like to jot a few words down about your experience – what you noticed, whether you noticed judgement creeping in – maybe you noticed a tendency to try to avoid any sensations you regard as “unpleasant?”
Mindful Practice for week 2
As in week 1, you are invited to do try this each day if you would like. The practice is available as a YouTube video. This week we are starting to get in touch with our senses. The practice itself focuses on listening. It can be done from a window or even just by listening to the sounds on the video indoors.
Suggested journal or Facebook share: You can jot down a few notes about the experience of this practice. Did you find that you were judging the sounds? Were there many sounds or just a few?
Our forgotten superpowers
We typically talk about having five senses, but in reality we have maybe as many as 30 according to scientists. For example, sensing temperature is a separate sense, sensing pain, and balance are too, as is the sense that tells you where your hand is in relation to your body (proprioception). All animals rely on their senses for survival, but as we have moved away from the lifestyle of our ancestors, we have become less dependent on our senses for getting our food and water, protecting us from predators, or telling us when to seek shelter. So we have become less in tune with our senses and with the clues and signs from nature that they would once have helped us to read. This week is about starting to tune back into our senses.
In week 3 we will be exploring the senses more deeply and also tapping into our creativity.