My friend, Phyllis Bertke, wrote this reflection after reading last week's post about being in nature. With her permission I share it here and thank you Phyllis!
I want to tell you that, after many years of seeking, I have found a mindfulness practice that I look forward to almost every day. It’s a 10- to 20-minute walking meditation outside. The tricks that keep me engaged are that I do it very slowly and in a different place every time.
It’s not every day because I only do it when I go someplace else first. I stop somewhere … anywhere … on my way home. And suddenly I’m seeing stuff I never would have seen if I had been walking with a friend or walking to get somewhere.
It doesn’t seem to matter where I am: residential area, shopping center, construction zone, nature trail …. and one day I even stumbled upon a woodsy area in the middle of a built-up commercial area and found a plaque saying it is a cemetery for African American members of a church dating from 1858 to 1926. There is no church any more, and no grave markers were to be seen, but soft spots in the carpet of leaves I was walking on indicated where the graves were. That sort of discovery is unusual of course, but so far no place I’ve been has been boring.
And I take pictures. I’ve been amazed at the wonderful ones I’ve been able to find…. so amazed that I started a journal with photos from the walk, a screenshot of an All Trails map showing where I was, and sometimes some words. I even have a new printer that happens to print excellent photos without a lot of tweaking, and every time a new page comes out of my printer, it’s like a chocolate truffle --- such a gift!
The whole experience is both calming and stimulating, and it’s helping me feel more connected to my world. I hope I will stay enthusiastic enough to keep it up for a long time.