Nature inside, nature outside
Mindfulness is not just something we practise for an hour.
It’s a way of being.
And being is our nature. We are human beings.
What does it mean, this ‘being’?
Maybe take a moment for yourself. Tune into your own being, perhaps closing your eyes, or gazing downwards. Drop any idea of doing or trying. Just be.
Rest there for a few moments and notice how that feels.
How is it, to be?
You didn’t just stop, right? You were resting, but aware. Aware of what what happening outside you, or inside you.
Practising this kind of awareness is simple but magical.
Listening deeply like this, everyday things become gifts.
The dew glistening on the tip of a curving leaf. The gentle rushing of the ocean waves. The smell of jasmine, after the rain. The feel of the soft, shredded trunk of the paperbark tree.
With my attention in my body, I notice my steady breathing and how my feet feel on the earth.
Resting like this feels calm, connected and caring. No need to add or do anything. There is a timeless quality to being.
Thoughts and feelings arise, like clouds, forming shapes, then shifting; changing.
This way of being feels alive. Sensing the nature inside us and outside us, that is dancing, ebbing and changing all of the time.
If ‘being’ is so natural, so intrinsic to being human, why do we have to practise it at all?
Actually, we don’t.
If we can simply be, with whatever arises, we don’t need any instructions.
But we often get so busy, so caught up in the demands of daily life that we forget how to be —though we knew how to do this as children.
Listening deeply is one way we remind ourselves of how to be, present and at peace. Some people might call it meditation, but it feels more natural than that.
This restful way of being is what we enjoy about our hobbies or holidays.
Isn’t it a welcome relief to abandon the to-do list? To take a break from go-go-go? Natural mindfulness offers us a way to cultivate pausing, letting go and just being.
Listening deeply invites us to use our senses, to feel alive, to notice the world around us. To enjoy nature, and to acknowledge what we feel and think.
This is something that we already deeply, intrinsically know how to do, as humans. This kind of mindfulness training provides a path, with practical exercises to remind us how to be.
Listening deeply is also an act of love. Imagine listening deeply to a good friend. How would you do that?
With attention, and care, right?
When we really listen, without a hidden agenda, we hold a space of caring presence, in which another can feel known and understood.
This cultivates love and compassion… again, very natural skills for human beings.
We can learn to listen to our own nature with the same care and patience we’d give to a good friend.
And because listening leads to understanding, this is also a path to clarity and wisdom.
By simply being, with attentiveness, we allow learning to arise naturally, from within.
We gather data from what we see and hear, from what we think and feel. The more information we gather, the more patterns we notice.
“Ah wow, that bird is flitting around, dancing for a much more dull-coloured bird, who is still and maybe watching?” From previous data, I know that it’s often the male bird who dances in courtship for the female.
From waiting, watching, listening deeply, I’m learning something about the nature of birds.
“Ah wow, when I see the sun set, I love the rich colours. I feel relaxed and contented and connect easily with an inner sense of presence and peace.”
I’m learning something here about my own nature. About my own patterns and habits. About what benefits me.
Listening deeply, letting these patterns and understanding emerge, benefits our lives, our work, our relationships, our communities and our earth.
And listening deeply to ourselves, in the same way we would to a good friend, helps us feel confident, centred and calm.
Then we can be really present to others, and more able to notice and care for their needs.
Imagine a whole family, a whole community committed to attending to each other like this? When our environment is caring, we feel safe, connected, happy. We feel in tune with nature, and alive.
In this way, the art of listening deeply serves the awareness, compassion and wisdom that are fundamental to wellbeing, to healthy relationships and to a society that is awake, kind, harmonious and very much in love with life, and the earth.
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