...into my garden...
With this website I want to share with you my experiences practicing mindfulness
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.” (Albert Einstein)
I invite you now to follow me in your imagination into my garden in Portugal, a partly unattended garden with oak and chestnut trees.
Last summer I had the pleasure of sharing time with our six month old granddaughter Anouk. Nearly every morning I took her in my arms and out into the garden for about one hour.
It was warm, so her little arms and legs were naked. So began for her and myself a journey – as Mark Coleman says ‘tapping into the sacred’.
The first step of this journey of simply being aware of the natural world was the water in a
carved granite stone with a little fountain in the middle, making the water move. She experienced
it with eyes wide open, not knowing that this was water. She tapped with fascination into this world.
I let her little fingers touch the cold water, and she left them in it: observing, noticing,
Then, while touching the water of the fountain, her whole little body began to move. Excitement. Joy. I was holding her, her feet touched the cold surface of the granite stone. What’s there? The simplicity of being aware, of being totally in the present moment without conceptions. No noise. Stillness. The joy of being together in this moment without conceptions. Simple joy.
In another moment she wanted to get in contact with a blue hortensia, grasping it first, trying to put it into her mouth; but slowly let it go, touching smoothly the petals of the blue flower. For me there was the concept of blue hortensia. For her? I don’t know.
There is it again, the mystery, the sacred.
Then smelling and touching the rosemary and lavender. But what is really there? By the time
I noticed that
So finally I can say the simplicity of taking a baby outside into nature was transforming both me and the baby. Her awareness and concentration were growing, and in scientific terms, new synapses were being created. But this is perhaps the less important. She felt the natural world with all her senses. And still today, as she continues this experience with her parents, it’s obvious that her capacity of deep concentration is supported by the contact with nature. Isn’t it enough?
So please, take yourself and your child into the woods. You are offering him and yourself the opportunity to fall in love with the Earth: the best preparation for him and our precious Earth.
Mindfulness and compassion
Mindfulness has become mainstream. A lot has been written about it. You can find many different definitions and explications. Last year I could read in a German newspaper: “Mindfulness and resilience are the two terms which are current. Working with your own body(…) leads to self- optimization“.
So I‘ll try to focus on my own understanding of mindfulness. I will start by discussing what mindfulness doesn’t mean.
It is not
Mindfulness is not:
- getting certain experiences
- controlling your mind and thoughts
- becoming passive
- a way of not thinking
- a retreat into yourself
…an active practice that you live, day by day. It’s the cultivation of an attitude towards life; and that you develop with a lot of patience and time. With time, you learn to relax, but relaxation is not the first aim. Mindfulness is a holistic inner process of knowing yourself, of being aware of yourself.
Mindfulness is clarity of awareness. Mindfulness means being clear with oneself, for being able to open up to others, to let go the habitual, stereotyped patterns of thinking and acting.
“The sensing body is not a programmed machine but an active and open form, continually improvising its relation to things and to the world.”(David Abram, The Spell Of The Sensuous, p.49)
When you practice mindful sitting, you are sitting with yourself, being fully aware of your thoughts and feelings, noticing them more and more in your body and slowly becoming able to let them be there and not to identify with them.
For this process you take a stable but not rigid sitting posture so that body and mind can form a unit. The sitting posture reflects calmness, stillness, equanimity, continuity, stability and dignity. This bodily posture can support the development of those inner qualities.
I take the time to get familiar with my own thoughts and feelings, to look at them with an allowing and accepting attitude, not to suppress or ignore them. I am not my thought, I am not the feeling. Slowly I can learn to let go, because:
To have thoughts is quite natural. To be aware of them, not to suppress them, learning to embrace
them with clear awareness.
For this active process you need courage and persistence, which we have all in us, although we perhaps can’t notice it anymore. It’s a power which includes empathetic friendliness, gentleness, openness, tenderness, vulnerability, compassion. This ‘heart-power’ is at the core of mindfulness practice.
Only like this, can mindfulness become a transforming, resilience-creating practice which can support your daily life.