Taking a nature connection walk this morning, I noticed that I was in that harsh doing mode, where I was like a square wheel on a bumpy road. I wasn’t exactly irritable on the surface, but that restless, self-critical mental “weather” was not far below the surface. I wanted to find that blissful place where I had been before and felt deeply connected with my surroundings and where all the troublesome mind things fell away. I wanted to drop into that place instantly. Those thoughts are lightning quick. They did not even form as words – just the feelings that they bring and I have seen them so many times before. These days they cannot hide as I try to deny them to myself. It’s a scratched record and I know the whole song literally by heart, but especially that bit about how things should be different to the way they are, which plays over and over.
So the first observation, is that even noticing that this is going on is a moment of mindfulness. You catch what is arising for you in that moment and see the habitual patterns.
Then I took myself very much into the present moment – “this is how things are for me right now, what else is here?” I was noticing lots of people and traffic noise. It felt like the trees and birds around me were somehow separate, almost behind glass. I wanted the cars and the people to be gone so that I could connect with the “nature”. Another insight.
So I turned towards the traffic noise. I accepted that “yes, it is here”. Then I asked myself, “with the traffic noise, what else is here?” As I did this, I found that the birds I could hear really entered my experience – that elusive connection started emerging! Now, I felt I was really hearing them and starting to feel part of their world. With that, I wandered on along the path caught up in natural environment and became so immersed in the trees and the river that I totally forgot the traffic noise!
I have been practising mindfulness for many years now and the idea of acceptance and “what you resist persists” is not new to me. However, knowing a thing and it becoming part of your default pattern are two separate things. For me at least, acceptance is something I still have to keep working on. I have to repeatedly learn this lesson and practice, but the seeds are sown. I am able to spot the flawed thinking and the trouble it is causing me, so that I can choose differently. The mind can be a sneaky thing and can find new ways to deliver this lesson, so a bit of detective work is needed to spot the new trick. What a wonderful challenge if we can treat this as a bit of a game and embrace it with love and acceptance, rather than frustration and seeing it as a flaw that we want to be rid of!