On a pilgrimage to Mount Shasta, butterflies became my spiritual teachers.
One of my favorite places in the world is Mount Shasta, and of all the sacred and beautiful locales around this mountain, I love a particular meadow about half-way up the slope. The source of its beauty – that nourishes the abundant life there – is a pristine spring.
This is where I like to sit when I visit, right next to the spring. Not only am I able to hear its sweet trickling sound and dip my feet in the freshly-melted-from-the-glacier water, but I’m able to look over the many wildflowers blooming around the tiny stream. And along with the flowers come the butterflies.
I’ve only been to a couple places that had more butterflies (I have seen Monarchs on their migration). There’s a lovely variety of them, too – orange and brown, white, periwinkle. They tend to linger nearby on the warm step stones, not just on the flowers. And this is when I get excited, because I love to coax them onto my fingers. Continue Reading
Every morning, shortly after I wake, I do my “sit-spot” practice outside in our front yard. This is a practice of simply sitting and being present with everything in nature. It’s a beautiful way to begin my day with the freshness of the morning air, the sun beginning to peek through the leaves, the squirrels racing up and down the oak trees, and most of all, the birdsong.
I relish hearing the variety of birds in our neighborhood. On those beautiful, bright, sunny mornings it is pure delight to sit by our grassy patch and hear a bird calling from the tall redwood tree 5 houses down to the right, and to hear the high-pitched clicking sound of a hummingbird as it zooms in for a drink from our Mexican sage.
This morning, however, was quite different than the others for the last couple of months. It was dense with cloud-cover, and rain was expected. For California in June, this is rare. With ordinary eyes, one might wake up, see the dismal looking skies, and decide to just pull the covers over the head and go back to sleep. A dreary, cloudy day. Continue Reading
I love to sit in my backyard – just taking in whatever I see, hear, and feel. This practice is called the “sit-spot” – a technique used by naturalists to immerse themselves in the experience of a chosen location in nature, to get to know the flora and fauna in a much more intimate way.
My eyes captured a bird, hopping on the ground. It was clearly an insect eater – small, with a long, pointed beak. I wanted it to come closer, but it slipped through the lattice work of the fence to my neighbor’s yard. I decided that if I wanted to know this bird better, why not be like a bird?
We all have times when we’re faced with fears or challenges. It’s part of life.
But sometimes those challenges seem overwhelming. Our minds blow them up into crises, replaying the many terrifying, possible scenarios over and over again in our minds, until we become agitated, anxious, or immobilized.
Are any of those scenarios actually happening? Chances are pretty good that they aren’t. But our bodies do not know the difference. When the mind creates images and thoughts that are fearful, our bodies react with the same chemicals that are produced when we are faced with a true threat to our life.
Which means that we are creating unnecessary stress and trauma in our minds, with little or no basis in reality. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Continue Reading