There’s Something About Birds

Photo by Greg Markway

I had planned to write about meditation today. I’m on Day 5 of Sharon Salzberg’s 28 day meditation challenge and I was going to share how it’s going. Here’s the short version: It’s been fairly boring. Actually, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. I’ve always had this aversion to formal meditation practice. I like to be doing things. I don’t know, but it might be my German heritage that values productivity (which I’m not knocking; productivity has it’s place). I’m just not so good at being. But all the books I’m reading on self-compassion say that meditation and mindfulness are keys to learning to be kind to oneself. So when I read online about this meditation challenge, I thought, “Hey, I’m in.”

So this morning I’m doing my “sitting”–that’s the lingo for meditation practice. My eyes are closed gently and I’m focusing on my breathing the best I can. I’m letting thoughts come and go gently. I’m trying not to be judgmental (I really suck at this) or expect too much (I’m not having any great insights). I start feeling sleepy. I remember reading that if this happens to open your eyes slightly, which I do. Out of the corner of my eye I see all kinds of commotion out on our deck. There are so many birds flying in the trees. Then the dogs, Lily and Larry, go wild barking to be let out the back door. Now I have a dilemma. Do I keep “sitting”? I’m sure advanced meditators are used to dealing with distractions. But this is too big of a distraction. Now Greg is coming from the other room to see what’s going on. Well, my formal meditation practice ends, but my informal mindfulness practice is just beginning.

For about fifteen minutes, I stand there staring at these amazing creatures. I focused on the cedar waxwings, which I’d never seen before. I noticed their beautiful aerodynamic shape with what appeared to be a black mask across their eyes. They had touches of yellow with a fluorescent red tip on their wings. There were also about a half a dozen bluebirds feeding at the same time. I never before realized how much beautiful color could be right outside my window on a winter day.

This is practice, too. Being open to the present moment. Being open to the unexpected.

Greg went and got the camera and took a few pictures. Soon the birds flew away. Ahhh. Change. Moments are here. Then they’re gone.

Yes, this is practice, with all it’s lessons, both boring and beautiful.

Here are a few other pictures Greg took this morning along with some quotes I found:

“Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.” –Bernard Meltzer

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.”            –Robert Lynd

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”                                    –William Blake

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”     –Chinese Proverb

2 thoughts on “There’s Something About Birds

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