I live in a house with big sliding glass doors that invite fresh air to wash freely through the home.
With doors that are left wide open, I often have unexpected feathered visitors. They dart into the house, not noticing that they are leaving the leafy garden to enter a modern brick construction.
I’m usually alerted to their entrance by the excited barking of my little dog, driven as much by curiosity as by instinct. The lounge erupts into chaos, with Skittles leaping and lunging after the frightened bird. The little creature flaps hopelessly from wall to ceiling, leaving a trail of feathers behind.
When this happens, I work to calm down both the delicate little visitor and the excited dog before quietly shepherding the bird toward an open door to escape back to the great outdoors again.
But one day—one bird—was different.
Although the bird was trapped inside, he was calm.
He sat on the back of a chair, his head cocked to one side, and looked at me with an air of intrigue. Almost reluctantly, I steered him toward the open door. He settled confidently on the railing of the wooden deck outside.
We held each other’s gaze for a while. In that tranquil moment, I realized that this little bird was a great teacher.
From time to time, we human beings become trapped on our journeys. We find ourselves in unfamiliar places, seemingly ensnared by the vagaries of life.
As happens with most of the birds that have come into my house, fear and panic incapacitate us. Without clarity of thought, we fly around desperately, crashing into walls and hiding in dark corners.
What we don’t realize is that we are incapacitated by our own thoughts. There are always solutions to our most pressing problems, just as the wide-open doors of my house offer a solution to the trapped birds. But panic makes us blind to them.
Mother Nature has given humans an immense gift. Our prefrontal cortex differentiates us from other mammals. With practice, we learn to operate from this powerful part of our brain in a state we call mindfulness. This most recently evolved area in our brain serves as a refuge from the chaos of our own neurobiology—a place where we escape helplessness, calmly aware of our own thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness helps us to stay calm when the world erupts into chaos around us. And, like my little feathered friend, when we’re calm, we find solutions for life’s most difficult challenges.
Instead of panic, we enjoy peace and liberation.
I hope that you too will meet little emissaries from Mother Nature on your journey. Even more, I hope that you will explore the power of mindfulness and will learn to exploit the intense calm of the present moment in your own beautiful life.