Around the time I first learned how to meditate, something amazing nature happened to me. It happened one day, quite spontaneously.
I was working as a lawyer at the time and I used to walk down a little lane way to the train station on my commute to work. It’s not an especially beautiful lane way – a concrete footpath, metal gates on one side and some shrubs and bushes on the other side. I must have walked this exact same route a thousand times before.
Except today it was different.
I couldn’t explain it but it was as if I was seeing this place for the very first time. I saw nature bees moving frantically amongst the flowers. The colours were so incredibly vivid. Were these same flowers here yesterday? Had someone come in the middle of the night and changed everything? It felt like that. There were so many details I had never seen before. It was disconcerting and in a way, almost frightening. I was usually a very brisk, purposeful walker but now my pace slowed. I looked around. There was so much life. So much movement. I felt an emotion that wasn’t at all familiar to me in those days…. pure joy.
It’s not an uncommon experience.
when someone starts to practice mediation. As we start to slow down and stop living so much in our heads, we can experience a shift in perspective. Sometimes it is more gradual and subtle, but in my case it was quite sudden and dramatic.
In the weeks and months that followed, I came to relish my daily walk down this little lane way. I didn’t listen to my iPod anymore. I listened to the birds signing and the wind moving amongst the trees. Every day I came to the start of the lane way expecting something magical.
Except I was never able to recapture that first moment of pure wonder. Over nature time walking down the lane way again became a familiar routine. It wasn’t an enchanted place anymore. Gradually, I slipped back into my old way of being. I still enjoyed my walk to work and I still found it nourishing to be outside but the magic was gone – at least for the time being.
Why did this happen?
The Irish writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch once said, “people from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us”.
Can you imagine what it would be like? If you were that person from another planet who had never seen a flower before? How do you think you would react? You would almost certainly stop whatever it is that you are nature doing. You would quite naturally ask yourself the question: “My God! What on Earth is this wonderful thing?!” There is probably a sense of intense curiosity. Maybe you move closer to investigate? All your senses are alert. Maybe you notice all kinds of tiny details which are only evident when your look very closely…delicate and intricate structures, subtle shades of colour, an intoxicating scent?
How do you think you would feel in this moment?