I was recently asked at my Meditation teacher training course to give a brief outline of what meditation had bought to my life.
I was pondering this question walking down the canal this morning, with these ducklings. The sun was shining, the trees were shimmering in the sunlight and the canal bank was filled with cow parsley, dandelions, buttercups and blackberry bushes. I kept stopping not only to marvel at the beauty of nature in such an urban environment but also to revel in the stillness of the canal and the sounds of the birds in the air. The sight of the cow parsley and buttercups took me back to my childhood and my 8 year old self dawdling behind the rest of my family on our family walks. I was always daydreaming, completely absorbed in the hedgerows and the flowers. Some of the flowers I took home to press, the dandelions to blow away into the wind and the buttercups to check if my brothers liked butter! Other times I would sit for hours making daisy chains. “Dolly Daydream” was my childhood nickname and I think now all that daydreaming and absorption in nature was my own childhood form of meditation. I was completely focused on my environment, lost in my own world where I felt happy, calm and truly myself.
My husband and I love walking in the mountains. As in childhood I am always slower than most to climb to the top of a mountain, this time due to lack of physical strength, rather than daydreaming! Regular stops afford me the pleasure of admiring the ever changing view. I am constantly passed by stronger and fitter walkers, some of whose mission it is to get to the top as fast as possible without stopping. I think about our constant striving to reach the top, to be the best, to have the same as others have and the stresses that brings to our daily lives. It is the human condition to want to achieve and reach the top or be the best in whatever we are doing. Whilst doing this however we can also take time to stop once in a while, to notice what is around us, to notice ourselves and to check if the buttercup under the chin truly can signify if you like butter or not!
Meditation helps us to access these moments through stillness and quiet contemplation. It enables us to appreciate the natural wonders around us, our connection to them and ultimately to come back to our true selves. Through these quiet moments we become more able to deal with challenges that may come our way.
So in answer to the question recently asked of me, one thing my meditation journey has given me, amongst many other wonderful benefits- is the rediscovery of my childhood ability to appreciate nature and my connection to it, to enjoy simple pleasures and to come back to my true self.