I have 2 well-used, well-loved bird feeders perched outside my kitchen window. The feeders are a source of nourishment for my diverse and busy bird community as well as a source of constant awe and joy to me. I’m telling you - this bird thing never gets old! Seeing a “yellow bird” (official name: American Goldfinch) elicits from the depths of my being a small, involuntary shriek, EVERY time I see one. It’s gotten to the point that if my kids (and even their friends) want to get my immediate attention all they need to shout is “yellow bird” while looking out the kitchen window. They know I’ll drop everything and show up.
So, what is it that draws me to the promise of the yellow bird, or the grosbeak, the blue jay or the woodpecker? What is it that keeps my gaze lingering out the kitchen window for a few extra seconds? What is it that taps into an almost visceral reaction from the depths of my being? How can these little creatures generate such powerful behaviors?
As I reflect on these questions, I can’t help but think that bird-watchers are on to something that may in fact go beyond bird calls & plumage. They may be the guardians of some long-held wisdom; a deep knowing that these feathered friends provide a gateway to presence and mindfulness. Maybe bird watching is all about the birds while not really about the birds at all.
When I’m watching my bird feeder, it’s about so much more than seeing the birds. It’s about showing up and stilling myself in the present moment. It’s about welcoming a sense of wonder at the mystery of who or what might show up. It’s about marveling at the perfect imperfections of nature. It’s about pausing to be with something other than and larger than my own neurotic and often self-referential thoughts. It feels to me that watching my birds’ flit, fly, peck and poke, provides me with a momentary refuge away from a narrow-busy-doing-mind toward an expansive-being-alive-mind.
Thanks bird feeders, now I get it!
What activities do you have in your life that offer this kind of refuge for you? How could you begin to look at your day-to-day routines as mindfulness practices? What will your "yellow bird" moment be today?
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Oh, now I get it!
Have you ever found yourself having one of those Oh-now-I-get-it-moments? They just seem to kind of happen, and then you realize, “oh…so this is what all the fuss was about, I get it now.” It’s like you finally tap into this deep wisdom that’s been lurking under your nose all along, but that you’ve just been unable to see. It’s a combination of the obvious with a dash of Oprah-level “aha”. In this blog, I will be sharing some of my experiences with these kinds of moments as they show up in my life on a pretty regular basis! Enjoy!