Go outside today, and get under some trees if at all possible. Just take ten minutes -- on your lunch break, right after work, after supper -- to sit still and watch the shadows the leaves make on the ground, or the shapes of the leaves themselves against the sky. If you don't have a tree, find some moving water or a fire.
Let your eyes relax and go soft. Don't try to notice anything in particular. Don't try to "empty your mind," or anything you associate with meditation. Just enjoy the shapes of light, shadow, or movement you see for ten minutes.
Why: It's doable; it's pleasant; it teaches presence; and it is our job to pay attention to the amazing beauty of nature.
What Might Come Up: You might find yourself thinking that you don't have time, or that ten minutes isn't enough time to be worth it. It's probably not literally true that you don't have ten minutes you could redirect to this activity. So you might just notice and acknowledge that you feel resistance, and wonder about its origin with loving curiosity. It might be that you keep busy to avoid feeling too much. It might be that a quiet deep longing inside you knows that if you give it ten minutes, it will want more. It might be that you're afraid you're "do it wrong," or be bored. Here's the great thing - you don't have to figure it out. You can honor the presence of your resistance, and then choose to sit in slight discomfort for 10 minutes!
If your rational mind needs more help to go along with you, tell it that you're helping your eyesight or concentration.
A Story: When I was a child, I often "zoned out" -- let my eyes unfocus and kind of stared at nothing. I never got in a ton of trouble for it, but I can remember people snapping their fingers in front of my eyes, being told to "snap out of it" in the lunchroom in 2nd or 3rd grade, and being shamed for missing information told me while I was zoning. Now I see my daughter sitting with eyes unfocused often, and I have to admit I sometimes get impatient with her (especially when she's zoning out instead of getting ready for school!)
When I participated in a nature-based leadership program a couple of years ago, we were taught "owl eyes" --the practice of letting your eyes look out in a general area, kept soft rather than tightly focused, building the awareness of your entire peripheral vision. It is a gaze of expectant waiting -- if you are looking only at the clump of grass where you saw the animal you want to see again, you will miss it when it emerges from a different place. But if you hold "owl eyes," you are tuned in to the whole field of vision before you, and you can turn on your focused vision to "zoom in" to a place you notice motion. (This is the best way to watch meteor showers, too.)
I realize now that when I see my daughter "zone out," she is really naturally engaging owl eyes. She is also naturally entering a meditative state! I feel regret for the times my responses served to train mindfulness out of my children while telling them to "Pay attention!" (How's that for unconsciously colluding with the culture?) Now I try to reflect, "Your body is telling you that you need outside time."
Counselor/Coach, Consultant, Folklorist, High Priestess of Where Things Meet and the Places Between