The Zen of Birdwatching
It’s still dark and cool when I head out. There is a ribbon of brightening sky on the eastern horizon. The grass is damp. Venus is still shinning in the East, and the waning moon is now falling toward the western sky. I am glad I’m wearing my rubber boots, the grass so silvery wet. There is no wind, a perfect morning to go birding.
This is my happy morning meditation, when I am aware of every sound, every movement around me, as I walk carefully and quietly along my trail to my back forest. Aware and noticing...I am fully present.
There is a male robin singing in the maple to my right, killdeer's plaintive Killdeer...killdeer in the field to my left, and the witchety...witchety of a common yellow throat in the bushes beside the trail. The calm and peacefulness envelops my mind and body.
Previous unacknowledged tension slides down my body and into the ground. My mind is soft, focused on observing the sounds, the songs, and movements around me. My monkey-mind chatter stops—the whole purpose of meditation. Acknowledging there is no right one way to do things, acknowledging that I am my own guru, has led me to the freedom to get in touch with my gifts and my healing in my own way.
I am not a sit-still-in-lotus kind of meditator. I confess, I fall often to sleep or doze. This used to make me feel I was doing the spiritual thing wrong. However, I found out the point of meditation is to get out of your head, and out of the land of 10,000 repeating thoughts and back into the moment—back into all your senses. Birding does this for me.
First, I’m into nature. Listening and looking intently. Then I begin to notice. Notice how one tree is a different shade from another. The feel of the different terrain beneath my boots. The smell and texture of the surrounding air. Birding, I have realized, enhances all your clairs—it grounds you, and you can do it anywhere, even in the city.
There is not one way to do anything. Many paths lead up the mountain—choose your own. I will continue to bird my way along.
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