Like so many of us, I have lived my life in the constant busy-ness of getting things done, doing stuff, ticking off ‘to do’ lists, a life of constant, relentless, often exhausting, driving motion and activity.
At the moment I am taking a rest after a year of my body telling me I am in this same old driving force I have lived in for over seventy years. Now it is for me to really take notice and sort myself out, and so I am taking space and time to listen to my body.
Today’s living has been awesome and amazing because I have done just that.
There was nothing pressing in the day except an arrangement with my partner to go to the Wildlife Reserve together when we were ready. I rose early and joined an exquisitely gentle online pelvic floor exercise session. I focussed deeply in this session and reached a place within myself I had never been before.
Afterwards I felt a settlement in myself, and a stillness, so I took my stillness to the Bird Reserve rather than the other way around when I used to go there to seek the stillness.
It was a beautiful day. We found ourselves ready to leave at the same time and took the journey steadily. My partner drove; I was very aware of my body and allowing it to inform me of my feelings, movement and posture. I took my time to assemble whatever I needed for our walk around the lakes, and we set off.
What happened was truly amazing for me. It is a very still environment, especially on a day with no wind, and yet there is so much movement within it. Being in connection with my own stillness, I was able to observe the movements of nature around me in a more intimate and totally connected way, how very often nothing seems to be happening, but very subtly the scene in front of me is changing all the time.
As we were walking a path, we met a couple who commented that there was seemingly “Nothing much happening today.” Their comment brought the awareness of the busy-ness and buzz of my ‘former’ life, where there always had to be some thing happening so I could be affirmed in my constant doing. This contrasted with all that we could feel about the stillness, and natural movements of nature within it; where nothing was conscious doing but all about responding from the natural evolution of each creature, – as revealed by the non-stop sound of birds singing their Spring songs, the hundreds of pale damsel flies of utmost delicacy, a peacock butterfly and many insects. There was a cormorant on the other side of the lake, swans and a grebe. Everything was teeming with life in its own rhythm, beautifully interweaving. Nothing like the eager anticipation of the couple to have an exciting experience, an emotion so out of tune with the surroundings.
From my own interior stillness, I was so aware of every movement within the greater stillness of the whole.
For an hour we sat in a hide, just observing and feeling how, within the stillness, there was always a natural and rhythmic motion. The pace was slow and almost imperceptible. You could be aware of birds in one place and the next time you looked for them they had moved somewhere else. It was like a slow dance as they responded to their needs and the environment. Occasionally swans or geese would take off with a flurry of faster motion and then everything would settle again.
I learned so much from observing this and was aware of the reflection it gave me. It kept coming to me again and again, the natural movement within space.
Two geese were swimming side by side, and we were so acutely tuned to the rhythm of nature that we both felt the vibration in our own bodies as they prepared to take off into flight in total synchronicity; we felt what they were communicating, they knew, we knew. Then there was the moment when two swans began their mating dance before turning away from each other. It was so brief we could have missed it, but by that time we were also so connected to each other we both saw it.
Then another couple walked into the hide and said there was “Nothing happening out there today.” I wondered what they were expecting and guessed it was something sensational – some rare bird like a kingfisher…? I recognised this individualistic and possessive emotion from my former life when I needed that kind of buzz to make me feel alive and fulfilled, and fill what felt to me like blank boring moments when in truth it was I who could not be still.
I realised how we go about life with so many expectations of what we want to see, something that gives us that ‘buzz’, and so we miss the precious simple moments that are there for us to experience all the time and give us an inner, stillness-based joy.
All day I walked with this stillness inside me being aware of my movements, staying consciously present, never letting stray thoughts come in, and it felt exquisitely beautiful, and so much else came to me to be observed, I could not be bored for one moment. The day flowed; when we felt to eat, we stopped and ate, when we felt to go home, we returned to the van.
The reflection from the whole day brought home to me how possible it is to live this way every day in everything we do, if we come from our inner Stillness.
I am WORKING with this every day. If I allow thoughts and emotions in, I can still go into drive, which can take me out of this place of connection with myself. However, I can reconnect, whenever I choose to, with the heavenly feeling that I felt by the lake. The commitment to honouring my awareness, my sensitivity and my purpose of profound connection is the way I can stay alive and vibrant till the day I die, without the drive and excess busy-ness of my former life.
My life now from the outside looks like I am retired, doing nothing. I have no job, I do minimal volunteer work, but every day, wherever I go, I endeavour to connect with whoever I meet and bring all that I am to whatever I do and say. I might seem to have no particular purpose; you could say I have retired but, take this day I just lived, present with myself, aware, sensing, feeling, receiving, open to whatever occurred, that shows me I certainly have not retired from life. This is my purpose now, to stay in connection to myself, all that surrounds me, and the Universe. I am no longer driven to seek the buzz and the stimulation of my earlier days. Rather I now live in the observation of life from a profoundly connected inner Stillness. That day at the lake confirmed for me how Nature works with the deep underlying Stillness I have always felt and now recognised as that same Stillness in my own body.
I now live more and more often from this profoundly connected inner Stillness and it feels natural, exquisite, even divine.
By Joan C., UK.