It is perhaps in seeking a large refill of inspiration that has made the weekly nature walk a lifestyle habit for me. This week, I happened to make a list of some of the sights and sounds that were sources of inspiration on Friday morning.
A narrow bridge between two small mounds of grass. Blackbirds showing exquisite flight control in the midst of a swift breeze. The play of light and shadows under partly overcast. transitioning skies. Remnants of last night’s campfires in fire pits. Lunch tables in the grass, arranged in a circle. A white tailed deer who sighted me and bounded away in the forest. A windmill by the water that alternates between stillness and speeding up to the pace of the wind. A hare that sighted me and scampered across the path to the apparent safety of his brood.
And there were so many more elements that filled me with inspiration in the short walk. Every single element had a lightness, a simplicity, a nonchalance, a spontaneity about it; perhaps that is what made them unique, never to be repeated sources of inspiration. It is when we encounter the unexpected in nature, when we get glimpses of the infinite possibilities of life in our daily living, that we get filled with inspiration, don’t we?
I often wonder if my weekly walks are to remind myself of the truth that the greatest source of inspiration lies within me; nature simply reflects my remembrance of that source. How about you? What are some of your sources of inspiration? What are some qualities of those sources that keeps you returning to them? How do you stay inspired between ‘refills’ from your source(s)?
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat, Sunday May 21 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 730pm India ~ share your inspiration. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK
I am walking the shore, looking at all the trees that have already shed all their blooms, when I suddenly come upon a late bloomer. It is full of the fragrance that I first felt, that announced its presence to me, invited me to visit with her. As I get closer, I take my sun-glasses off to view the astonishing sight created by this single tree. It is nonchalantly shedding blooms with every breath, not only onto the ground but also onto the heavy green algae sitting in the lake. The surface of the water is a triple layer of barely visible blue, covered by heavy green, and a carpet of fragrant white lightness covering it all like frosting in a cake. And the frosting is fragrant!
The resident blackbirds have spotted me now, and are creating a big ruckus, perhaps alerting the geese family with their newborns who are growing rapidly to adulthood, about the arrival of the ‘Friday Morning Walker’s’ intrusion. My heart has been captured by the tapestry in the water, and I move a few hundred yards to the opposite shore to get a better view of it all. The breeze picks up a bit on this warming morning, and every so often, the combination creates an ethereal shower of white on the water, whose thickness is starting to match the green algae underneath.
From my new vantage point on the other shore, I can see a second tree in the distance which has created its own field of white in the lake waters below it. The fragrance of the two, located about fifty feet from each other, is combining to create a new sense of harmony in the stillness. The heartbeats of the two trees seems to permeate everything that they do, including the giving with joy of the very blooms that make them so radiant and fragrant.
Is that what I am meant to absorb and take away from the walk this morning — to remember that the heartbeat of Mother Nature, of a Mother, is to bloom for all, to send life-giving energy to all in the world who are receptive to it?
I can stand here all morning and just observe my own heartbeat slow down and synchronize with that of the petals now seemingly falling in suspended animation. I think I will do just that. It feels good to harmonize with the fragrance and the unstruck sound of the universal Mother’s heartbeat.
Let the world wait.
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter gathering and conversation in #Spiritchat, Sunday May 14 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India. We will listen and share with each other. Namaste – @AjmaniK
I am sitting on the hilltop of the bird reservation, surrounded by water on both sides of the narrow path that brought me here, immersed in the sounds of geese calls and wrens, the silent flight of a pelican, the occasional screech of an orange-breasted blackbird, and more. An almost warming breeze blows from the East as the sun reaches high enough in the sky to cast a shadow longer than me on the bench in front of me. I try and pick one element to focus on, to let it all absorb me on this Friday morning, perhaps to even fill me with contentment.
It isn’t happening. My senses are all over the place.
A pair of great white egrets takes off from the western side of the marsh, flies within a few dozen feet of me, and circles around to the eastern side of the waters, gaining height with every flap of their four foot odd wingspans, and disappears on the far side of the marsh where the forest is thick and they perhaps have nests with babies. The swathe of their wings and their soundless flight helps with focus, as I only engage sight and sound.
Getting closer to contentment?
There are a couple of humans on the far side of the western marsh, towing their ten thousand dollar camera rigs with zoom lenses as big as the egrets that just flew by. The day is perfect for their excursion, and I am sure they are doing better with focusing in their own activity than I am. You can tell the ones who have been there for a while, the experienced photogs — they seem a lot more relaxed than the newbies.
Maybe I need to just relax and contentment will follow?
A pair of geese emerges from the waiter into the grassy shore in front of me, chaperoning their five newborns between them for safety. I don’t know how much of contentment they have, but they have surely have parenting work to do. How can parenting, or any type of ‘work’ bring us contentment? Maybe I digress.
And so goes the morning. More water fowl, more music, more light, another pair of pure white geese floating by, geese pairs in various stages of nesting and resting, and so much more. I could stand on this hillock all day long, keep writing, keep absorbing, keep taking photos, and keep renewing the heart — and maybe some day I will just do that.
The work of relaxation, of focusing on the heart rarely ever gets old because of the result is the feeling of contentment that one feels within. Sometimes, the work involves detours. My regular Friday morning trail was closed due to all the rain this week – and so I decided to come to the bird reservation instead. As I walked back, as slowly as I possibly could, absorbing it all like i do at the end of every morning meditation, I am filled with gratitude that this nirvana exists, is accessible within a few minutes of where I live.
It is said that if we can focus on what we truly want in life, if we develop a single over-arching spiritual purpose or goal in life, contentment will want to be with us and within us. Maybe that’s the question from today’s walk for me — can you primarily focus on one thing at a time, maybe even for all time? Would you be content with That?
P.S. join us for our weekly twitter chat, Sunday May 7 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pmIndia in #SpiritChat. Namaste – @AjmaniK
A female goose floats in the huge lake as the rain gently falls on this last Friday of April.
A female mallard sits in stillness on the inclined lakeshore as the male stands guard. I wonder if she is sitting on eggs, and if so, what defense do they really have against any attackers? Is it perhaps why they hang out by the bigger geese, who at least have some means, however limited, to ward off folks who may come near them with their beaks and demeanor? The ducks literally have no defense, other than that of the community which they reside in.
The goose has now come near the shore where I stand. Her peace is remarkable as she sits still in the rain. The father has now joined in the swim, even though he is about thirty feet away from her, which is about the same distance that she stands from me. We form an isosceles triangle whose base is the sixty foot distance between me and the father, who is slowly turning away and lengthening the gap between me and him.
The mother is now floating in the smallest of circles, virtually in place, in the clear portion of the water surrounded by heavy layers of algae. I am writing as I watch, a few feet from the water on the third of four steps, where the next step I take will put me right next to the water. I take that final fourth step and I must have crossed her line because she instantly sets off an alarm call. I step back and she is immediately silenced, as if I must have stepped back from her circle of perceived danger.
The rain keeps falling, even picks up pace for a while, and I am still standing still as I write, right next to an apple tree with the softest of white petals in full bloom on my right and a crab-apple tree in the distance on the far shore where the sun rises on my left. She has moved away from me a bit – the two sides of the isosceles are about forty feet now.
Oh wait. The father has returned to the far side of the lake to the shore by the windmill, to check on the three babies that have hatched over the past week or so. She gets a bit more trusting of me in my stillness, as she is now only twenty feet away, eyes towards where her babies are on the far side.
The rain is really starting to pick up now, but the tree that is literally growing leaves as I write is providing enough of an umbrella that I can keep writing. I am also in the company of the birdsongs coming from the tall trees lining the shore where the mallard couple is still parked. I can see that the goslings are now playing in the rain in the distance.
The mother has apparently decided that it is time to head back to the newborns, as the male of an incoming couple of geese tries to go after her and chases her out of the lake. The alarm calls go out from amid the trees that two intruders have arrived to claim the waters. Serenity turns to stress in a few seconds, and the mallard couple decides to take off. Such can be the cadence of life during a morning walk on the lake with friends.
The smallest of the newborns has now ventured almost to the middle of the lake. The rain is filling my phone’s screen with raindrops and I can barely write any more. It’s time to perhaps head back to dryness.
As I head back to where my car is parked, I’m glad, as I always am, that I decided to ignore the mind’s rationalizations and walked anyway today. On the final stretch, I remember to express gratitude to the new parents and their goslings, the mallards in their stillness, the resplendent apple blossoms, the birdsongs, the rain, and even the intruding geese who eventually disrupted the reverie.
Every walk, even around the same lake and on the same trails, is different. It is perhaps because my heart and its receptivity is a bit different in every walk. I am particularly reminded today that even though I start every walk by myself, I never really end up walking alone – companions inevitably join in.
How about you – why do you walk? What are your favorite walking paths? Who are your frequent traveling companions?
P.S. Do join the friends of #SpiritChat as we gather in twitter in our weekly walk on Sunday April 30 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India. We will walk, rain or shine, with some conversation and questions. Namaste – AjmaniK
It’s Earth Day today, April 22 2023. I am waking to heavy rain bringing in a cold front. Rain, shine, fog or snow, I am deeply grateful whenever my day begins with…
The first step is to sit comfortably and feel the healing light and energy from the Earth entering the body through the tips of each and every toe. This light is then moving slowly through the feet, the ankles, the legs, the knees, the thighs, and pausing in the torso. The Earth’s light then moves up along the back, rests in the shoulders, shifts to the front and moves up along the stomach and the chest, and relaxes the entire upper body. Down along the arms and elbows and wrists it goes, reaching all the way to each fingertips, filling them with light. The Earth’s light then shifts to the neck, the jaw, the face, lips, nose, eyelids, ear lobes, forehead, and finally emerges from the top of the head, relaxing everything it touches.
Every single morning that I remember to accept the grace of the Earth’s healing light, and practice the sequence of relaxation described above, I am reminded of the Earth’s ever-presence and its ever-giving. In my experience, the beauty of the relaxation practice is in its simplicity, its accessibility and its sustainability.
I imagine that every one of us has their own ‘go-to’ practice of relaxation, renewal and inner restoration that taps into the ever-abundant grace of Mother Earth and her ever-flowing resources that are all around us. There is often one or more of Earth’s five core elements that we may have an affinity for – water, earth, fire, air and ether – and the elements we choose for our practices may even change over time.
Which of Earth’s element(s) do you have an affinity for in your daily practices? Are there any particular physical senses that are most effective for you to connect with the core of Earth’s ever-loving grace? How does the health of your physical relationship with the Earth influence your inner awareness of truth and existence?
P.S. Join us Sunday April 23 at 9amET for our weekly gathering and conversation in #SpiritChat on twitter as we celebrate ‘Earth Week’. Bring some of your favorite Earth-photos and Earth-poems to share. Namaste – @AjmaniK
Resources: More details of the ‘Earth’s healing-light relaxation’ are available at heartfulness.org or in the free HeartsApp app.
Some mornings, the beauty and the stillness and the majesty simply engulfs and envelops and immerses you in ways you would or could scarcely imagine.
The combination of the light, the stillness, the warmth, the layers of sounds and colors and life happenings come at you from so many directions as summer visits spring, albeit briefly, a bit earlier than usual.
It is one of those days where you have somewhat put your grand search in suspended animation to subconsciously mimic within what you are observing with your senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and even taste being activated simultaneously by the stillness of new life emerging around you.
You are watching the sky transitioning into the same crystal blue that is reflecting in the pond partially covered with algae as the sun rises above the crab-apple and cottonwood trees and you catch yourself getting too close to the edge of the lake where a mother goose sitting on her eggs is watching you in stillness with half closed eyes.
There is a grandiosity about it all which would perhaps rival the great palaces of ancient times, all conjured by the energy of a morning on a trail that you have walked many a time in many seasons and yet, today, in this hour, it all looks different because you sense that the observer isn’t really making any effort to observe – the searching, the fighting or flighting has melted away for a while and all that remains is the floating.
It is when we meet effortlessness on the path, our walk – and sometimes it happens when we aren’t intentional about being effortless; maybe it can truly only happen when we are unintentional about it – that we come face to face with the realization fed by submerging in what is all around us, all encompassing, without form, without definition, beyond time and space and division- that our grand search in nature is about our effort to find that One in the many that already exists within us.
Maybe we need to stop trying so hard to meet That who has been patiently waiting for us ~ to drop our senses, or at least merge all of them so that we can be immersed in the awareness that our search is already complete. Perhaps all we need to do is let ourselves be awakened from our dream that we, the beloved, with all the tenderness of the dew drops of the world within us, are somehow separate from the ocean.
How much effort is that search, that awakening, really going to take?
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat, Sunday April 16 at 9amET / 1pm UTC / 630pm India with the #SpiritChat community, as we discuss the how and why if searching effortlessly. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK
It was about a week or so today that the first color of spring first burst upon us by the fence line in the backyard. The two willows which we had planted when we first moved into our new home a few years have back have grown from a foot high to at least eight feet. Both of them were proudly sporting their full blooms of pink and white flowers that stood in contrast against the still-leafless trees of the forest. At first sight, they looked very much like the light coating of the first snow of a season that paints every branch of the willows with a delicate white.
In the week since, the March of the blooms has been held back a bit with the weather going back and forth between winter and spring like a kid trying to master their new yo-yo. As a result, the hydrangeas are lying in wait for a consistent warmup before they will set forth their colors. After a couple of initial sightings, the orange breasted blackbirds have also seemingly slowed their migration to the backyard forest from the South. It has been left to the mallard ducks to add color to the local lake with their brilliant blues shining amid the many pairs of nesting geese.
The myriad colors of the season may be delayed, but I am sure that they won’t be denied. Like the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his “Song of the Bird”
O Flame of the Forest, All your flower-torches are ablaze; You have kissed our songs red with the passion of your youth.
In the spring breeze the mango-blossoms launch their messages to the unknown And the new leaves dream aloud all day.
It is only a matter of time that the ‘flame of the forest’ shall kindle the hearts of the birds and along with them, we shall see that ‘the flower-torches are ablaze’. The birds’ songs will be ‘kissed red by the passion of spring’, and the ‘leaves shall dream aloud all day.’ Isn’t it wonderful that we can trust the poets of the world to remind us that we can find color in any season if we choose to let poetry into our hearts? What would our lives be like if we allowed ourselves to add more color to our lives through art, prose, theater, dance and so much more that enlivens us?
Spring is as good a time as any to add more color to our lives than we currently may be enjoying. If you need an excuse to dive headlong into more color, perhaps consider the Indian festival of colors – Holi – which falls on the full moon day (March 7/8) this year. Wear some colorful clothes, splash some virtual paint on some screens, write a verse or few of poetry with a theme of your choosing, break out some real crayons or paint brushes, share some sweets with a neighbor and more. In short, do whatever will bring a bit of lightness and playfulness to your heart. That’s what a sense of color can do for our spirit.
It can make us feel like ‘mango-blossoms (that) launch their messages to the unknown’. Who knows — we may even pause the asking of questions and simply immerse in the colors of spring for a moment.
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and conversation on twitter in #SpiritChat, Sunday March 5 at 9amET. We will share some colors with each other – bring your favorite pieces of poetry, artwork, artists, and more to share. I will bring some questions and treats. Namaste – @AjmaniK
Willow blossoms are the first to arrive with spring colors to the garden…
Small though it was, the bridge itself had never actually moved. I thought it had been removed by human hands because it was in relatively poor shape, but the fact was that I had just stopped seeing it. I had assumed that it was gone, and in its place was a relatively small stretch of water which I could just as easily jump move for walk around to get to the other side of the embankment.
All of that changed this morning, after six odd months of getting my shoes wet while navigating the stretch of water. The bridge reappeared in my awareness, where it had always remained, slightly hidden beneath the overgrowth. It hadn’t been touched by human hands, because some of the boards were still missing and others were still broken. A few feet left long, about a foot wide, just enough to support one human’s or deee’s crossing at a time, over an invisible body of water.
My delight at meeting this old friend was instant. It wasn’t that the friend had walked away from me. I had just stopped noticing my friend by thinking that it had disappeared from where I thought it once used to be – over that same patch of water which I was now regularly jumping over or walking around. It was a beautiful reunion today, as I walked through the tall grasses, stepped on the first of the boards gently, and slowly crossed over the few feet that held me as surely they always had in the past.
Once on the other side, I looked back and said thank you for reappearing, for giving me space to explore alternate pathways to the other side. It felt like a reunion with a long lost friend who I had stopped observing because I was too busy or distracted, or because I made the assumption that they did not want to be seen by me any more. The power of observation works in many different ways, doesn’t it?
Have you have ever experienced the sense that you have been observing certain things differently within you on your walk of life? Which observations tend to come from wisdom, and which ones come from assumptions? How has the power of observation affected your relationships with others?
As I was leaving for home, the Sun started emerging from behind the clouds above the tree line in the distance and I realized that like the bridge, the divine rarely move away from us – it is we who shift our heart’s focus of observation. The good news is that it remains within our powers to shift our focus back to divine awareness, whenever we so choose to observe it again.
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and conversation, Sunday Feb 26 at 9amET / 2pmGMT on twitter in #SpiritChat. We will discuss our powers of observation among friends who are with us in our journeys. Namaste – AjmaniK
It has been at least five years, and I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. During one of my morning walks on a fisherman’s trail by the river, I came around a bend and stepped into a clearing that was filled with hundreds of daisies. It was a clear blue-sky kind of day and there was a spring-like warmth in the air accompanied by the soft gurgling of the river as it flowed lightly. I paused, and did something I had never done before, and have rarely done since.
I took off my light jacket, and lay done on the grass, among all of the daises, face pointed towards the heavens, arms stretched out by my side, letting it all flow through me. I will never forget the coolness of the grass, the softness of the flowers, the sunshine smiling at me and the feeling of the sounds of the vibration of the earth’s hum as it held me softly. It was as safe a moment and space, an opening of the heart, that I ever remember experiencing in nature. The music of the earth and the waters, and the stillness of the sky made it feel like all the senses had come awake simultaneously.
After laying in the clearing for a few minutes, it seemed like all the sounds of the birds, the river, the breeze and the earth had merged into the one wordless harmony of celestial music. I am sure that you have had experiences with natural or man-made music that affect your heart in a way that words cannot describe. We all know that the vibrations created by music can affect our moods and emotions, and transport us to places that transcend our ordinary planes of daily experiences, don’t we? Imagine a state or states of existence where we have developed the ability to be constantly attuned to the celestial or divine music that plays continuously within us.
What would our life feel like if we were to primarily live in a state of higher vibration than we currently do? How do we develop the ability to spend most, if not all of our waking, working, resting hours in tune with that music which helps us live and love our best life?
Yes. It may takes practice, even a lot of practice, to live in that state of attunement with divine music. What do we get in return for all that practice? In my experience, once we have laid down in that field where we have felt embraced by the universe and all her elements, we never forget that state of superconscious joy.
If and when higher bliss is experienced within, we cannot then wait to wake up and walk, sing, write, meditate or practice whatever it is that brings us closer to our natural state of higher vibration, can we?
I invite you to practice to listen to the music play. We can surely all hear it and heart it, can’t we?
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat, Sunday, Feb 5 at 9am ET / 2pm GMT in #Spiritchat. Bring some of your favorite music to share. I will bring some questions. Namaste – @AjmaniK
As best as I can surmise, today’s twenty minute stint was perhaps my shortest weekly walk on the trail in quite a while. The weather front was turning rain to sleet, which meant that it was cold, blustery, pellets were coming at me sideways from all directions and it was as grey and foreboding feeling as winter can be imagined.
And yet I wasn’t deterred because it is these weekly walks that have become my inspiration for the ideas that turn into the weekly blog post which I often write after the walk. The clarity, lightness and simplicity that flow from walking in solitude and observing the dynamics of flora and fauna creates a portal through which the thoughts flow into words on the page.
At the start of today’s walk, I set the intention to invite feelings and memories related to ‘service’ into the heart. Swami Vivekananda talked about the notion of ‘service as duty’ and how we often engage in service as a means to fulfill our sense of duty. In 12th grade, we actually had a ‘subject’ called SUPW — socially useful productive work — which was on the schedule for one hour a week. As a teenager, I used to often scoff at the idea that one could do any meaningful ‘service’ in one hour a week. As is often the case, I was wrong. It was during SUPW that I discovered the work of organizations like UNICEF, and gained some awareness of how privileged my life was as compared to millions of children around the world.
As I walked the trail around the pond on the soggy grass, skirting temporary lakelets created by yesterday’s heavy rains, I remembered my ‘service’ projects in engineering school. The Saturday morning hours set aside to meet the requirements of volunteer hours for the National Service Scheme (NSS) brought familiarity with the Red Cross, learning about blood donations and such. However, the sense of ‘service as duty’ remained.
It wasn’t until my visit to a ‘nursing home for disabled children’ on an NSS Saturday that my heart towards service finally shifted. The hands-on and heart-filling experiences of seeing, listening, simply sitting and walking with those with life-long impairments, mostly children of my age and below, was transformational. The heart-shift meant that I couldn’t wait for Saturday mornings to arrive so that I could go visit the home and spend time with those that I had formed mini-friendships with. Service transformed from a sense of ‘duty’ to a sense of ‘doing good’ — over time, the one benefiting most from the ‘goodness’ was actually me.
At the halfway mark on the trail, where the wind had died down because the path was flanked by thickets of trees, I took a pause and reflected on my experiences with service through SUPW and the NSS. It is said that there are no small acts of kindness, and I am convinced that it was those small acts of giving that opened my heart and mind to the power of small acts of service. To paraphrase Swami Vivekananda, the world doesn’t need our help — we need the world in order to exercise our ability to serve. Our heart needs the world, so that it can feel the joy of serving and eventually arrive at a state where we feel that service becomes a privilege, not mere duty.
It is said that in the midst of our serving, when our heart is fully immersed, we become observers of the One who is truly serving and the One who is truly being served. Service thus becomes the unifier of people.
We realize that the day’s walk is over, the storm has becalmed us and it is time to return home to warm up with a cup of green tea and share our heart of service with the world.
Thank you for serving. Namaste.
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, Jan 15 at 9amET / 2pmGMT. We will pause to remember Martin Luther King, Jr and discuss the topic of ‘heart of service’. Namaste – @AjmaniK