In the midst of a major life crisis, we often forget that we have the intrinsic ability to calmly solve seemingly insurmountable problems.
We live in a beautiful house close to the beach with big sliding glass doors that invite fresh air to wash freely through our home.
With wide-open doors, we often have unexpected feathered visitors. They flitter into the house, not noticing that they are leaving the leafy garden to enter a modern brick construction.
I’m usually alerted by the excited barking of our dog, driven as much by curiosity as by instinct. The lounge erupts into chaos, with the little dog leaping and lunging after the frightened bird. The little creature flaps hopelessly from wall to ceiling, leaving a trail of feathers and droppings.
My job is to calm everyone down, before quietly shepherding the bird towards an open door to escape back to the great outdoors again.
Today was different.
Although the bird was trapped inside, the little fellow who had flown in was already calm.
He sat on the back of a chair, with its head cocked to one side, and looked at me with an air of intrigue. Almost reluctantly, I steered him towards the open door. He settled confidently on the railing of the wooden deck outside.
We held each other’s gaze for a while. In that tranquil moment I realized that the bird was a great teacher.
From time-to-time we human beings become trapped on our journeys. We find ourselves in unfamiliar places, seemingly ensnared by the vagaries of life.
Like most of the birds that come into our house, fear and panic incapacitate us. Without clarity of thought, we fly around desperately, crashing into walls, and hiding in dark corners.
What we don’t realize at the time is that we are incapacitated by our own thoughts. Like our house, with its wide-open doors, there are always solutions to our most pressing problems. Instead, panic makes us blind.
Mother Nature has given humans an immense gift. Our prefrontal cortex differentiates us from other early mammals. With practice, we learn to operate from this powerful part of our brain, in a state we call mindfulness. This most recently evolved area in our brain serves as a refuge from the chaos of our own neurobiology—a place where we escape helplessness, calmly aware of our own thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness helps us to stay calm when the world erupts into chaos around us. And, like my little feathered friend, when we’re calm, we find solutions for life’s most difficult challenges. Instead of panic, we enjoy peace and liberation.
I hope that you too will meet little emissaries from Mother Nature on your journey. I hope that you will explore the power of mindfulness and will learn to exploit the intense calm of the present moment in your own beautiful life!