Join Our Mailing List

I'm listed in Life & Lifestyle

You are currently viewing archive for September 2015
Posted By Opening the Heart

Okay, so as well as I can measure it out, these are the ingredients, for me, of a perfect morning. Place: the beach from Baker's Beach to the Westport River, Westport, Massachusetts. Time: early morning, sun has just climbed above the scrub pine, east on Gooseberry Island. Weather: (very important)- 64 degrees, moderate offshore wind, visibility, forever. You can see Cuttyhunk Island way off on the furthest southeastern horizon. Scenery effects: low tide, no one else in site, no music, no phone, osprey fishing for breakfast; one baby osprey, high-pitched caw, maybe out for its first solo flight- what a morning to learn to take wing; a group of mallards, with families, just going for a sea ride; gulls, soaring, dropping sea clams on the rocks; sandpipers chasing the waves in and out. Perfect!

Then, attention, the mind, shifts to Imperfection. What does the psychologist Jon Kabbat Zinn say "Wherever you go, there you are!" So, NBM starts (Negative, Busy Mind): worry, fear, anxiety. Really!? In this perfect place and perfect time? Come on! Okay, do what you've been trained to do: breathe, bring your attention to NBM with some curiosity: "Isn't that interesting- even in this perfect moment, there are negativities, judgments and shit!"

Attention refocuses on the incredible sparkle of the sun's reflection off the water. The osprey and gulls, the wind all, still, seem to be in perfect harmony, untouched by my NBM. And for a few minutes it "works"! I am back in the serenity and beauty of the moment. For a few minutes- really!?.... Yup! Breathe, pay attention to whatever is before me. AND, remember, Jon, everything you've been taught: the goal of mindfulness is not to make one thing stay- not to hold on to one inner state. Breathe and 'Isn't it interesting: even with practice, we cannot aim to hold on to One Dear Thing'".

Then, as I approach the river, something quite wonderful happens. As I walk along the riverbank, with the water emptying into the sea, the wind picks up and there is a huge flock of terns flying upriver, in the same direction I'm walking, just about at the same speed. They fly and dart, and, then, quite suddenly, one drops straight down into the river and then flies up with a minnow in his beak. He carries it to his wife on the shore and tells her to bring it to the "kids".



flying terns

The whole scene took my breath away. Yes, the intrusive thoughts still occasionally came back. My turn was to stay with those thoughts and then it was Your Tern, and the elegance and poise of the terns took hold. It became a game, not a struggle to make something else happen than what was before me in every moment. And I had an awareness that this walk was, really, no different than any other piece of my life unfolding, and I simply turned to the terns, bowed and gave thanks to God for this moment.

With Love and Respect, JonJon