Sometimes, meditating on a beautiful scene or moment is easy:
I love to wander.
Exploration during a good wander is exhilarating, and it can be done anywhere at anytime. Here I will address the “neighborhood wander,” or “local park wander.” Small scale wandering can be done everyday, and is just right outside your doorstep. It is wandering that is relatively low risk, and can be incorporated into your routine of daily life.
If you like to walk, you will love to wander.
To wander is to love, linger, appreciate, dream, move, explore, wonder. A wander is more of a meander than a “ramble” or a “roam.”
A good wander is juicy and satisfying.
It clears the mind by awakening the senses. By going off track, somehow, wandering can lead you back to what matters most in life. It also sparks healthy curiosity about the world around you.
So let’s get to the basics of wandering:
1. Find a place to wander. Around the block? Down the street? City park? Amongst the trees on a park trail? In a large flower garden? Pick a place you feel most comfortable exploring.
2. Set aside time to wander. This is a good way to set an intention. To set a time aside to wander means it is something you value. It enhances your life. It may be a few hours. It could be a few days. Setting a time allows the space for your experience, and you will know the beginning and end. Most people, with schedules and families etc. feel comfortable with a set time to wander. Set a time, even just ten minutes, to lose track of.
3. The pace of wandering. Slow. Like pouring molasses. Like a snake digesting. Like a snail crossing a trail.
4. Music is optional. There are some great songs that can enhance rich wandering experience. But often the sounds of your surroundings are enough. Depending on where you wander, it is much more enjoyable to have all senses in full awareness.
5. Linger as if your life depended on it. Lingering is my favorite part of wandering. Wandering and lingering are best friends. To linger is to connect and appreciate. To linger is to love and gush all of your attention onto something simply because you choose too bathe in it’s complete awesomeness. I linger upon tall trees, rhododendrons (and most other flowers) and groups of tiny mushrooms (my friend calls them”mushroom cities”)
6.Make sure to look up at lush (or sparse) treetops. Or at the clouds. Or at a soaring eagle.
7. Make sure to look down onto your path. Be careful to not trip on a root or rock, or squash a banana slug or disrupt an ant parade.
8. Put your “dog nose” on. Stop and sniff the air with short strong whiffs. What do you smell? Bark? Tree essence? Flowers? Mulch? Low tide?
9. Touch things. Feel the texture of tree bark. Touch a smooth flower petal. Brush you hand against some leaves. Hold a handful of
soil. ( Read this to find out why soil makes us happier and smarter)
10. Go alone or with a companion. A silent wander alone has many benefits, and can deepen peacefulness and inner balance. But to wander with a companion is great because you can share experiences with each other during and after a wander. Wandering with a companion also supports healthy relationship building, and it’s always nice to have a witness to back you up if you see something truly amazing! (FYI: children are outstanding wander companions)
Now go ahead and plan a luscious wander!
Recently, a research study was conducted at Stanford University on how living in a state of awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances well-being. Part of the study found that “experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”
Cultivating a sense of awe everyday, at least once a day, benefits our well being in so many ways. Living in the mindspace of awe can connect us to the world around us with a sense of wonder. It can remind us of the beautiful miracle that is our universe.
In Maslow’s classic text Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences (one of my all time favorites) he wrote,
“…the sacred is in the ordinary, it is to be found in one’s daily life, in ones neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard….To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”
When we mindfully observe what is happening in the moment, it is difficult not to feel the awe of living.
This morning I looked out my window and saw three bald eagles floating in the blue sky wind over Lake Union. That was pretty awesome. When was the last time you experienced an awesome moment?
Look to where you are at this moment, where you are right now, and experience the wonder of something. Let yourself truly feel the awe of the moment. Today is an awesome day.
Do you have just thirty seconds?
The Thirty Second video project started because I wanted to capture just small glimpses and sounds in nature to remember once I returned to the city. Now I will share them on this blog as small 30 second nature meditations. Here is a 30 second video of a rainbow halo around the sun. This was recorded at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
(Hopefully I will become more skilled at taken a smoother video during this project!)