Have you ever felt that each summer seems shorter than the last? That you were so busy you barely had time to enjoy a juicy slice of watermelon on the deck, to watch the fireflies flashing on and off in the back yard, to dig your feet into warm sand . . . to just be? The seasons change before we know it, and we find ourselves looking back wondering where the time went.
Before summer comes to a close, we can intentionally make more time to relish all that this season has to offer, leaving our electronic screens behind to connect with the natural world around us. We can even take our meditation practice outside.
The following practice can be done while sitting, standing or walking outdoors. Disconnect from the thinking mind and focus your attention on the environment around you. Notice the visual field … textures, colors, shapes. Notice the sounds, close by and far away, without trying to identify the sources. Notice the feeling of the sun, the breeze, the rain — the way the environment feels to your body. Notice movement … animals, birds, leaves … whatever is in your field of vision. Notice any feelings in your body – the felt resonance of the sensory experience.
If your mind goes off into thinking – “I wonder what type of bird that is?” – bring it back to just seeing the bird, unhooking from thoughts about the bird.
You can also choose to direct your attention to just one aspect of the experience, closing your eyes and listening to the sounds. Or opening your eyes and gazing at one flower, at the large tree, or at the entire landscape in your field of vision. It is up to you to decide where to place your attention.
We find this exercise can create lasting, deeply felt impressions and memories, using only 5 minutes of the 100,000 or more you have available to you this summer. Attention expands our summer.