I was leading a retreat at the very rural, English, and beautiful Penhurst Retreat Centre in East Sussex. In the afternoon space I went for a walk and stopped to look at some cows close to the woodland edge I was walking through.
It seems they were curious (see the video below) and came to look at me! Being curious, open to exploring and approaching new things is an important part of being mindful. Interestingly some educators believe a dangerous spark of inquisitiveness should be cultivated in children’s lives.
Here is a short extract from ‘A Book of Sparks – a study in Christian MindFullness’ where I interview Professor Guy Claxton about this.
‘One of those I have learnt much from in conversation is Professor Guy Claxton, who, as we discussed earlier, is out of the line of educational prophets who ask why we count qualifications but not the cost of acquiring them. He wishes to restore the spark of dangerous inquisitiveness into the person of the child as well as the practice of education. He believes this dangerous inquisitiveness should exist not only in education but also in what he calls ‘proximal spirituality’.
For the professor, education is not just about skills and technical proficiency but also about the cultivation of qualities like inquisitiveness.’ (p.118)
If you are working in a concrete jungle, take a minute out of clock time and just enjoy these cows being inquisitive. Perhaps resolve mindfully to be curious, open and inquisitive to new things for the rest of the day.
Take one minute out of clock time. Focus your attention on the poppy. Let it bring you to your senses. Let the colour fill your vision in open awareness. See the movement of the petals in the wind. Let the sounds come to you and the silence of the flower.
See the concrete encroaching, is that like your life? Feel the red blood singing in your veins, and the scarlet bleed of pain. Notice the first thought and if your mind wanders into a negative ruminating story, bring it back to the flower.
Is your breath, slowing, deepening in the moment? Did you hear the birds?
Even one minute out of clock time can re-orientate you, allow you to accept things as they are at the moment…let them go.
Come back to the task in hand. Perhaps with a goal for later. To go for a noticing walk…listen to some music…sing along…
Take three minutes out of clock time. Perhaps you are stuck indoors behind a desk. This is a three minute video of the sea, waves gently lapping at the beach.
Come to your senses. Let the waves and the sounds come to you. Notice your breathing, is it rhythmic like the waves? Is it fast and shallow or slow and deep like the waves?
Let the colours come to you. Notice when the clouds come over, or when the sun comes breaking through. Can you hear quieter sounds in the background.
If your mind wanders, notice what it wanders too and bring it back to the waves.
Feel the sand beneath your feet and the coolness of the water. Salt drying on your face and the cool wind and warm sun…
Notice any longings to walk on the beach barefoot, to paddle in the sea. To gaze out at the horizon in open awareness, breathing in freedom. Is there a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of your senses…
Did you notice the light flooding in at the end? May it be a picture of wellbeing flooding into you.
Let go of whatever is troubling you. Come back to the task in hand refreshed. As the paddle boarder appears at the end, so it is time for you to journey on to your next task.