I am at Hayes Conference Centre for the @RetreatsUK retreat. The centre has a beautiful pond where you can watch little fish swimming, being still, moving, suddenly startled…
I’ve recorded one minute of this on video. If you are stuck indoors somewhere it is good for your soul just to be able to step back into nature and your senses even for a minute. Watch the fish and notice their movements and their stillness, hear the sound of the birds and perhaps the indistinct sound of people’s voices occasionally in the background. Notice how the light changes and there are ripples on the water from the breeze. Sometimes we see the fish more clearly, sometimes they are more fuzzy and out of awareness.
If you think of the pond as your mind, a pool of awareness, and the fish as thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations that come into your mind. The fish mirror some of the ways your thoughts have patterns and ways of reacting. Notice how the fish are suddenly startled. That happens in our minds many times a day, but unlike the fish we find it harder to be still again. The stress response sends in fear, anxiety, anger in bigger shoals, more often, creating stress ripples that can stay with us.
Sometimes we see the fish thoughts clearly, sometimes they are out of awareness, sometimes we are the fish caught up by the thoughts, held by the experience and dragged down into a negative automatic reacton.
We live in a society and culture that is triggering that stress response many times a day.
In mindfulness and contemplation instead of being held by the experience we can learn to hold the experience, notice it, intimately feel it, and then let it go – coming back to whatever it is we want to focus our attention on. In this way we learn to calm the mind in an ongoing dynamic pattern.
Consider the lilies…