Category Archives: Quote

Connecting with the beauty of nature…

House Finch in the Evening

Getting in touch with the beauty of nature makes life much more beautiful, much more real, and the more mindful and concentrated you are, the more deeply the sunset will reveal itself to you.

~ Hanh, Thich Nhat; Kohn, Sherab Chodzin (2010-12-21). You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment (Kindle Locations 187-188). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Lately, I haven’t spent much time outside, but the other evening while sitting out back this little house finch stopped by and paused for a few minutes, staring into the sunset to the west.  Sharing this experience with him instantly eliminated the day’s worries and challenges and connected me with a world with which our human-created environments drive separation. And yet, for all of the benefits that these manufactured environments provide (temperature control and protection to name a couple), we are a part of the natural world.  As Thich Nhat Hanh states above, connection with the natural world can enhance life.

For this week I will try to spend more time outside, connecting with the natural world.

Have a great week!

Feeding the Ducks

Feeding the Ducks

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

`Albert Einstein, via Interlude Thought of the Day on April 17, 2013

When I was a kid we would travel to my grandparents in Michigan.  On almost every trip we’d pop popcorn on the stove, put it in bags, and head to the local pond to feed the ducks.  I remember how it felt being close to these animals, to look into their eyes and try to understand what it was like living as a duck.

I can’t say that I ever really figured out what it means to be a duck, but I think it was these kinds of moments when I started to gain an understanding that I wasn’t that different. They got hungry just like me, and seemed to enjoy the popcorn just like me.  Some of them would sleep or warm themselves in the sun, just like I enjoyed the warmth of the sun on a chilly day.  They were alive and part of the world, and there I was connecting with them (albeit through bribery!).

I’m not sure if the little kid above is having a similar experience, but I hope that he’s starting to recognize what Einstein did.

Have a great weekend!

It’s the experience that matters

Happy Runner

Focus on what it’s like to be outdoors, to feeling your body move, to the relationships you may have built through running. These are experiences that can be reproduced with every run—you don’t need a good finish time to produce them. By shifting the focus from results to running itself you’ll feel empowered.  

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author of Prime Sport: Triumph of the Athlete Mind, The Bliss List, Runner’s World.com

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email, March 18, 2013

I’m into a good groove and consider myself fully recovered from my calf strain.  The process of recovering from an injury is never easy, and if I focus on the end rather than the process, it’s even more painful.  It’s like I’m trying to escape from the injury, or worse, speed up time. Time is the most precious gift of life, and if we can focus on our current “location” and not wish we were “somewhere” else we can lose minutes, hours, days, weeks, even years.

I know, it’s happened to me.  I’ve spent way too much time wishing I had a different job, new skills, more friends, less friends, better physical capabilities, a stronger memory, more creativity – you name it, I’ve wished for it.  I wanted to escape being me and before I knew it there I was, in the same place I was when I started thinking about my escape plan!

No more.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have what I need, and that what will make me happiest is to be okay with me.  As stated in the quote above, I want to focus on the process, and less on the results.  Life is a journey and if we’re always thinking about the outcome, which is inevitably in the future, we can miss the journey.

Running is a great way to get into the current moment.  In my experience, it’s not unlike meditation, only moving.  When I silence the music and take off the watch (or hide it since I can’t live without the post-run data), and don’t worry about pace or time or even weather, and I focus on the process of running, the rhythm, it really is amazing.

Photography also is helping me get into the current moment, but I’m finding that I need to be careful and not focus too much on the result of the picture.  I’m still a rookie and use automatic settings most of the time, but I’m finding that it’s when I forget about the picture and settle into the moment that I get some of my favorite images.

Below is a chart (click here to access the article from which I pulled this graph – there’s also a great TED talk that accompanies this information on the page) that supports some of the above comments, as it shows that people are happier when in the present moment than when their mind wanders:

I’m extending the concept of “mind wandering” to “escape,” but I think that’s relevant.  If our mind isn’t in the present moment, we are escaping.  Our bodies haven’t moved, but our reality is significantly altered.  I haven’t researched the methodology or dug into the data that produced the chart, but I can say that this is consistent with my experience.

I do understand that there are real, dangerous and painful circumstances from which many people do need to escape, and that I’m lucky to not have to deal with that type of pain.  Yet, I’ve still found myself wishing for something else.  It’s not easy to stay in the present.  I think that’s why people who try to live mindfully call it a practice.

What do you think?  Do you struggle staying in the present?  Are you happier when you’re able to stay in the present?  Do you have any tactics you can share to help others stay in the present?

Thanks for stopping by and reading through this post!