Seeing the Forest

While the stock market tumults, I study things up close like the black and orange caterpillar that crosses my path. How does a caterpillar survive this uneven terrain I wonder? The war and torture in Ukraine continue while I step out firmly on wet soil. I listen to the tall pines sway and watch the flickering light dance with shadows. There’s a song that plays here. It’s a strange echo of a melody, reminiscent of memories left behind and futures yet unseen.

I get into my car and drive. The prices at the supermarket are barbaric. I grab some produce and plop the bag on the seat. The gas tank is half empty. Gas is expensive as hell and I’m calculating each move by the dollar. There’s a man standing on the corner of the station with his hands in his pockets. I think he knows I’m hiding out, borrowing some green serenity from his forest. I wonder if he’s thinking that I’m a foreigner and should get out.

Back in the thicket, I spot a woodpecker but can’t see the cricket that chirps loudly. Now, I know for sure I’m being watched by a deer family. Each time I walk by, they freeze and escort me with their eyes. They’re strong and soft and wait for each one of their own to cross. I watch them run fast and leap. They look like joy and I’m transported by their free flight.

There’s an age old idiom that says we can’t see the forest for the trees meaning we can’t see the big picture if we focus too much on the details. There’s another idiom that says the devil is in the details meaning details are important. Which idiom is suitable for us now, seeing our current state of things? How can we keep site of the whole journey while also observing the details of our surroundings? What do we pay attention to when things are uncertain and changing?

My inclination is that we need to understand how what we pay attention to impacts our feelings and decision making. There’s nothing wrong with getting up close and personal with the details, if we’re observing with equanimity. We can benefit from observing the texture and pattern of a situation if we don’t get mired down or overwhelmed. When it comes time to decision making, it’s important to widen our perspective to include the bigger picture, the vision, the greater purpose driving everything. You know when you tap into your purpose and vision because it always feels light, joyful and filled with energy.

In mindfulness and meditation, we train our mind and learn to hold our attention deliberately. Sometimes, we practice zooming in and sometimes we practice zooming out and seeing the entirety. The key is moving awareness strategically to see with greater clarity and to take action accordingly.

Today, I am a forest dweller. Yesterday, I was in a light tower. Tomorrow, I will be exactly where I need to be. If only I am aware and patient with what nature is showing me.

Mindfulness, Nature and Time

“There are times in life when we experience a time space warp such that you shift into another dimension that reveals the totality of our existence and immortality.”

Ríos, 2017, TS+EF=SC

It’s morning and I see the full moon setting over my balcony. I’m watching this happen on the same balcony that I watched the sun set last night.

Light streams in from the other side. I run to the window that faces East.

The sun is also rising!

I’m suddenly aware that I’m in that precise moment of time when the moon is setting and the sun is rising and I can see both from my light tower.

I wonder about meaning until I stop worrying about meaning and I just sit and breathe and drink coffee and observe the unfolding of an ending and a beginning.

The sun rises and the full moon lowers in the sky. Its brightness slowly fades, while the other enlarges and emanates.

I remember how I wept death last night and stretched out my hand—

Now, it’s morning and the full moon sets peacefully over my balcony.

The sun rises in the East.

The moon is a pale, circle in the sky.

My eyes hardly perceive it but it is there.

Listening To Your Body

Tips for Coaching and Self-Mastery

On my morning run, I noticed my knee hurt every time I thought about a specific memory. Granted, I’ve been pushing myself to run further for almost a month now and my knee has been sensitive but this was something else. This was a jab that steadily increased. It happened more than once.

When I became aware of this, I tried redirecting my mind. I didn’t want to stop running and lose momentum so I moved my attention away from the upsetting thought and focused on something in the present moment which was actually quite pleasing. The morning was bright and sunny and I had been feeling strong and optimistic. I had recently made some changes in my routine that made me feel excited again. As I practiced concentrating on these positive feelings and moving my attention away from the lower half of my body, the pain in my knee went away and I was able to continue my run calmly. I didn’t increase my speed because I was still aware my knee was adapting to the extra miles but I did focus on improving my posture and form. In the end, I was able to complete the route successfully.

The body is a phenomenal piece of machinery! It has all these instantaneous feedback loops built in. However, it can be tricky this tuning into the body. How do we know how to respond when we’re growing and trying new things? We all know that growing pains are natural and healthy. Just because we feel pain or discomfort doesn’t mean we should stop what we’re doing, but how much pain should we expect when we’re growing or developing new habits of mind and behavior? How can we manage our growth mindfully so our pain does not hinder our over-all sense of well-being or even worse, turn into injury or long term suffering?

Discomfort and pain are a natural part of growth and development however the type of pain you experience in your body should not be ignored. Pain in the body, such as muscle pain, anxiety or fatigue are opportunities to check in with your approach and your planning. As we grow and develop, time passes, circumstances change and so does our body. There are also shifts in our environment that impact our state of being. Pain is your body’s way of heightening your awareness so that you take the time to adjust accordingly. Your body is a fine tuned instrument and knows exactly what you need to be healthy and successful in the long run.

In my experience, when we learn to listen to our body we can adjust and manage our growth and development more effectively. We can avoid severe injury, switching our goals prematurely or losing the joy of the journey.  

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you grow and move toward Self-Mastery.

  1. What are you thinking about when you begin to feel discomfort, anxiety or strain?
  2. What are some positive thoughts to focus on in the present moment?
  3. What is your body telling you about your speed? Can you decrease your speed or build in small breaks to avoid injury?
  4. How can you modify your routine so that you’re having fun and feel more calm?
  5. How often should you talk with your mentor, coach or friend to get encouragement, clarify your goals or get feedback on your approach?

These are a few examples for how we can listen to our body and respond to it mindfully. Being mindful means we are honoring the present moment as much as the future goal. It means we embrace our body as a phenomenal piece of machinery designed to tell us what we need. Growing pains are inevitable but we can manage our growth and development wisely.