[I taught the Sense and Savor Walk below last weekend as part of the silent retreat of the Fall 2014 Mindful Self-Compassion course. What a delight to slow down…savor the silence and stillness in the company of like-minded souls…take in the beauty of a fog-lifting morning in the garden – hummingbirds, spider webs, the softness of the Mexican bush sage, the radiance of the slanting light. I’ve included three poems/quotes I read as we deepened into the silence, and then the exercise, then another poem. May you find the serenity and peace in these words, in these practices, that restores your life energy for the life you are living, for the challenges you are coping with.]
In the relentless busyness of modern life,
we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.
Our culture invariably supposes
that action and accomplishment are better than rest,
that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing.
Because of our desire to succeed,
to meet these ever-growing expectations,
we do not rest.
Because we do not rest, we lose our way.
We miss the compass points that would show us where to go.
We bypass the nourishment that would give us succor.
We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom.
We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.
Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere,
even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others,
the corrosive pressure of frantic over-activity
can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others.
A “successful” life can become a violent enterprise.
– Wayne Muller
* * * * *
Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive.Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
* * * * *
When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I AM that is deeper than name and form. You are the knowing, not the condition that is known.
– Eckhart Tolle
SENSE AND SAVOR WALK
1. Find a quiet place to walk in nature – through a forest or park, along a beach or stream, around a pond or garden – for about twenty minutes. Begin by standing still, noticing the sensations of your feet on the ground, your body standing comfortably tall and strong, your whole body breathing.
2. Begin walking slowly, noticing as many pleasurable things as possible, slowly, one after another: the fresh air, the warm sun, a beautiful leaf, the shape of a stone, a smiling face, the song of a bird, the feeling of the earth under your feet. Use all of your senses – sight, smell, sound, touch…maybe even taste.
3. When you find something delightful or pleasant, let yourself take it in fully. Really enjoy it. Feel a tender leaf or the texture of a stick. Give yourself over to the experience as if it were the only thing that existed in the world.
4. Enjoy your experiences, and let yourself savor these precious moments of enjoyment. “Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be.” Take in the kindness and care for yourself in these moments of simply being.
I hear the trees
say “What’s your hurry?”
how in my world
we have to rush
to keep in step.
I haven’t even time
to stop and tell them
how on weekends, too,
It’s only on a sick day
when I have to venture out
to pick up medicine
that I understand the trees,
there in all their fullness
in a world unpatterned
full of moments,
full of spaces,
been turned yet
on the lathe
lies open, light
and shadow. Breath
fills the body easily.
into a world
a quiet lover.
– Max Reif