Morning Practice

Be Still Morning Practice by paleoirish.com
Be Still

Do you have a morning ritual or practice? Is it a spiritual practice or a physical exercise routine? This morning I enjoyed both although that wasn’t my intention.

I went for a hour long walk, at least that was the intention, I don’t know how long I was as I didn’t bring a phone and I haven’t owned a watch in a very long time. I hadn’t slept as well as I usually do as there was something bothering me and I wanted to leave it behind on my walk. I wanted to not be thinking about it all day so I set out on a walk that I know takes about an hour. It’s a there and back walk, not a circuit as our road actually becomes a gravel forest track and ends in the Sitka Spruce plantations, it is used by the foresters when they cut or plant the pine trees and very rarely has any traffic on it. The route that I took this morning is a new extension though, the forestry lads built it during the year to extend their ability to access more trees for cutting and hauling and it has given me a new route for walking.

For awhile on the walk I was still bothered by what I didn’t want to be thinking about and so I was trying to not think about it. Have you ever done that? If you have then I’m sure you know how fruitless that endeavor is. The more you try to not think about it the more it rattles around in your head and grows, you hear imaginary conversations about the issue with other people, it grows legs and can outpace me any day.

After a while I did become distracted by my surroundings and thought about it less and less. Sometimes distraction is just what you need. I recognised the stand of trees where I saw a red squirrel earlier in the year and so I was walking more quietly and becoming more observant in the hopes that I might spot it again. Before I knew it I was at the end of the track and went to investigate the amazing toadstools and mushrooms that I saw a few days ago. I didn’t have a camera with me so I can’t share them with you today, perhaps another day.

I felt drawn into the woods and crossed a ditch so that I was in among the Sitka spruce. We’ve had weeks here with no rain so the ditches are dry as was the forest floor, in fact the forest floor looked so soft and inviting that I put my wind-cheater down on the pine needles and lay under the trees, just at the edge so that I could look up through the trees and also out across the track to see the sky.

At first I moved around a little, finding a comfy spot on the soft ground, just feeling and enjoying the connection of the earth to my body. I became quiet and began to notice all the other sounds that were not connected with me. There was a surprising amount of wonderful birdsong, I cannot recognise many different birds by song and didn’t try to, I just enjoyed listening to them, real surround sound. I enjoyed the play of the branches above me and how the light danced between the needles until it reached me. Every now and then there was sound that was just like rain falling however I knew that it wasn’t raining and after a time I saw what was making the sound. Across the track, above and behind the pine trees I could see wild growing Aspen trees moving in the slight breeze, their rounded leaves rattling and dancing against each other and then quieting again as the breeze died away.

If I hadn’t been so bothered I’m sure my walk would have been just that – a walk. I’m grateful for the experience it became when I got out of the way.

I’m glad to have re-learnt that I cannot “not think” about something, rather I need to replace the thought, much like it’s very difficult to get rid of a bad habit, you will be so much more successful changing the habit than trying to eradicate it. I’m happy to have found some beautiful Aspen in the midst of the pine and will enjoy sharing my find with a tree-wise part-time neighbour who has taught me much about trees and our neigbbourhood because he sees it with different eyes.

Do you have a morning ritual or practice you would like to share? Please leave a comment, I ‘d love to hear from you.

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  1. Thanks for sharing that, very insightful. As a yoga teacher and shiatsu therapist I do have a range of practices myself and I also teach some to clients. The easiest is to simply focus on your breath, without changing anything. Do this while sitting quietly, lying down or even as you walk. Whatever works for you. Simply become a witness to how your breath enters and leaves your body, observe how it moves your body. When you notice your mind has wandered, gently escort your attention back to your breath. If the same thoughts keep popping up, just observe what they are, without going into or analysing the thought. Is it about something in the past, present or future? Is it something you can change? If not, acknowledge that and come back to your breath. If it something that can be changed, choose one simple respectful step to begin dealing with the situation and then come back to your breath. Another thing you can do is, rather than act on the thought or delve into who, why,what etc. simply name the emotion or feeling that the thought invokes in your mind and body. Is it fear, anger, humiliation, injustice, etc. Name it. Then explore where and how you are feeling that in your body? How does it manifest physically? Use your breath to breathe into the physical manifestation of the feeling. Stay with it. It will evolve, change, move, and become unstuck. It’s powerful stuff 🙂

    My own rituals are like yours … a good half hour walk, every day if I can, with my dog … noticing nature and the seasons. I also do yoga which helps to focus the mind, to be in the present moment with the added side effects of getting flexible and strong, attributes that also become part of your mindset and life off the yoga mat. It’s a fun and lifelong journey of exploration and learning 🙂

    1. Thanks for responding Rebecca, I like your suggestions very much and find them very do-able. I’m going to try them out and see which works best for which situation. I think that they are just the sort of tool that is very useful to practise so that when you really need it the tool almost works automatically.

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