Thursday, June 3, 2010
Yesterday I took my new puppy for a hike at a park in an adjoining town. This park is about 250 acres of dedicated public open space that offers a small beach on a lake, hiking trails and a little fenced in doggie park that borders the lake on one side.
We start out by hiking about two miles of trails up and down hills, around the lake and through the woods and we always end up (by her choice) in the dog park where she is allowed off her leash. Freedom to roam and chase blowing leaves untethered. In that little span of park she experiences the only freedom that a six-month old puppy gets in the course of a day… and she makes the most of it.
I sit on a bench in the shade. Funny thing about a hot, still day in New England, no matter how hot or humid or still the air the breeze still blows off the lake. There can be absolutely no movement of air in the other 249 acres of space but at that lake the breeze is always blowing.
Here is what I did: I felt the breeze and heard the leaves rustle. I watched the ripples in the water. I listened to the voices of the swimmers across the lake at the beach. I listened to the footsteps and chatter of people walking by on the trails. I watched the dog sit in wait for just the right moment to pounce on the next blowing leaf that had the misfortune of crossing her path. I heard birds, I heard dogs, I saw fish jumping out of the water and some sort of water animal (otter?) cutting a path through the lake. I chatted with people who walked by – my dog is a real conversation piece. I don’t mean to brag but she’s a real looker.
Here is what I did not do: Think about anything that happened the day before or even that morning. Think about anything that I had to do the next day or even that evening. I didn’t think about the mortgage or what I needed to stop by the grocery store to buy. I didn’t think about work or any other responsibility that falls to me during the normal course of any given day.
And I only realized later that for that ninety minutes that I spent in that park this was my experience. Mindfulness… being aware of where you are and what is going on in the moment. If you’re fortunate enough to get as much pleasure in the experience as I did yesterday so much the better. That ladies and gentleman is mindfulness.
And it happens… sometimes without even trying.