Mindfulness in Nature

10689511_10152682791797492_3604397737744685866_nSomiedo Natural Park, Asturias, Spain hosted two fantastic Walkinginspirit, mindful walking retreats in June 2015. The weather was amazing and the flowers were in full bloom. 16 walkers over two separate retreats enjoyed Europe’s Eden to the full. Thanks to all who took part.

I developed a few new thoughts about mindfulness during the June retreats which I thought I’d share.

1st position – I identify as the part of my mind that grew out of adapting to the world around me, my family, my peers, and the prevailing culture OR, my reaction to them. I am immersed in my “character”, my inner dialogue, my habits, my likes and dislikes, my emotions and reactions. My beliefs about myself, others and the world constitute who I recognise myself to be. I identify with – and as – the roles I have been assigned or taken on as well as characteristics that I have been given or have otherwise acquired along the way. When I interact with myself, others and the world around me, I do so as the personality I believe myself to be and nothing more. “This is just who I am”. My mind never seems to be quiet.
2nd position – I sometimes observe my self, my personality, my thoughts and reactions from another perspective but I quickly slip back into “being me” again. The observer/perceiver can speak but seems to come from a place beyond words. It can be disconcerting for myself and others to behave “out of character” in this way but it feels like it might be more real. I am questioning who I am.
3rd position – I identify myself more and more as the observer/perceiver and body and actor instead of the mind and the character life has made of me. I am able to spend longer periods in this part of myself and I’ve come to recognise it as a place of peace, quiet and strength. I am no longer trying to be someone. I am now more concerned with unbecoming everything I am not. I am able evaluate and reflect on my own thoughts, emotions and behaviour with more objectivity and am less defensive.
4th position – I sometimes sense that this observer/perceiver me is held within something beyond myself. I feel moments of bliss and freedom when the boundaries between myself and “not my self” dissolve. In these moments I sometimes perceive another dimension revealed in the topography and movement of the natural world.

These thoughts are entirely provisional and I am in no way presenting them as facts. Nor am I presenting them as a kind of ladder to enlightenment. I think it is entirely possible to move through all the positions in the course of one day. Any linear way of describing consciousness must ultimately fall short but I hope you find them useful.

Frankie Sikes

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