Self care = earth care

Am blessed to have participated in a six-hour mindfulness practice today on Earth Day. What a way to celebrate and practice alongisde 19 other individuals and under the tutelage of Thu Nguyen who has shared in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh for over 30 years. On a path toward MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) certification, I've been searching for a place where I can get comfortable and am thankful to have visited at the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax today. 

Housed in a simple, circular and sacred space with large windows looking out into the woods, the center is a most welcome respite. The only colorful decorations were those of 1000 paper cranes and two tapestries. As a wife and mama to a rising kindergartener, it's a challenge to be "on" -- on the ball, on my game -- every single day. So, today was one long aaahhhhhhh . . .  

This morning began with a guided meditatation. To heed this older man's gentle and compasisonate voice as I found my calm breath was soothing. Even more amazing was to witness this teacher's light, his serene face and ever-so-slight smile, as he led us in a movement meditation. What an experience to be in his presence. And our walking meditation as we listened to the the rain fall peacefully in the woods reminded me how each step of each foot on the Earth can be intentional. 

Admittedly, the closing songs caught me a bit off guard. It wasn't chanting, more like folk songs (I am a cloud, I am a flower, I am the sunshine . . . ). The guitarist enouraged us to let go of our inhibitions as if we were two-year-olds. I remained open and reminded myself that singing is wonderful practice for breathing and being in the moment (after all, that's why I did it all four years of college). 

Not a hardcore lunch meditation, our shared meal involved some eating in silence. We each brought a vegetarian dish to contribute to the pot luck. While I'm familiar with chewing much longer and eating more slowly, to do this in complete silence and in the presence of a community is mind-body blowing. What a powerful reminder of how we rush through our meals and indulge way too much. Imagine, samples from 20 varied tasty dishes. What a feast! At the sound of the bell, we would pause wherever we were in our meal, only smiling to acknowledge each other's company. After eating in silence for most of our meal, we could then chat. 

That I am with this Earth for such a short time sometimes weighs heavy on my thoughts. I continue to work to understand how our deeper connections with people are related to healing the Earth, that our personal consciousness is part of the Earth's consciousness, and our human energy is always tapping into the Earth's energy. We are partners with Earth. We must remember as much as possible to act with grace and social justice. 

My everyday mindfulness is an ongoing journey that involves engaging others, caring for ourselves and minding the earth. 

May the sun bring you energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your anxieties, may the breeze blow new strength into your being, & may you walk tenderly on the Earth & know its beauty.