Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being Present

Photo by Amy Coffman Phillips.  
Have you ever tried to just sit and be still for 25 minutes?  Without thinking about anything in particular?  Or without really moving?  Well, I tried.  And it's hard.  On a recent trip to the Springbrook Prairie Preserve I completed a BPCP iSite where I was to "Sit and Be Here."  Being present is so hard to do, especially for someone so used to multi-tasking.  Sitting still and observing is a form of meditation, and I found it extremely relaxing but also irritating. 

It felt relaxing because I was alone, my children were being cared for by our babysitter, and I had the luxury to just sit down and look at a field of green and yellow prairie flowers.  That experience alone made the time worthwhile.  But the multi-tasker in me wanted to be doing something else at the same time - walking or running so that it would count as my exercise for the day; naming the grasses, birds, and bugs I see and remembering the ones I couldn't name; thinking about what I see and practicing my biomimicry translation skills...  I find it almost impossible to turn off the part of my brain that tells me what I am doing now is not as important as what I should or could be doing.

After "quieting my cleverness," I came away from the experience with a feeling of vitality, both of the prairie and in myself.  The prairie looks like plain grassland to many people, but by sitting down and just observing I know that this place is alive in ways I never imagined.  I saw a black crow perched on top of a grass swaying in the wind.  I heard bugs buzz by my ear and saw butterflies, moths, and dragonflies - and a few mosquitoes.  I heard the grass rustle against each other and I saw critters scatter.  Hundreds of species call that patch of grassland home and by sitting down to observe them, I became a part of that system.  I felt renewed and connected to something much larger than myself.  And it felt great.  I will continue to return to the prairie and other environments and I will practice my skills of sitting and being fully present.  I hope that one day I will be able to accomplish the task.

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