On January 1st, I did a wonderful mindful walk with my wife Caren. We had stayed the night at a friend’s house in Ladybank for Hogmanay, and as there were no buses back on Jan 1st, took it upon ourselves to have a leisurely, slow walk through the Fife countryside from Ladybank to Falkland, via Kingskettle and Freuchie.
Mindfully walking is an amazing thing, because it concentrates your mind and body to act as one. Rather than thinking about past or future issues in our lives, we focus in the present at our surroundings: the feel of the ground under our feet, the ever changing weather, the sights and sounds of wildlife. We use our awareness of the moment to keep coming back, again and again, when our mind wanders off.
We decided, also, to explore some woods we’d walked many times before, but moving off the track and through the trees, just out of curiosity. In doing this, we had to walk ever slower, stepping over root, lowering under branch, and generally watching our footing.
This slowness made us more quiet, and then, lo and behold! We spotted five deer. Nature wasn’t content to leave us with that; we then heard sounds above, looked up, and spied a red squirrel munching at the top of a tree. Amazing what can be seen when one slows, leaves public paths, and ventures into the land.
We rejoined the main track, heading through woods towards the village of Newton of Falkland. We had stopped to inspect some strange markings on a tree, when Caren grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. She’d heard a noise behind, and then had spotted it first. I turned and before us, thundering down a track just opposite to the one we were standing on, was a fox.
I’ve never seen a fox do such a thing before: it plunged through the undergrowth, not quietly (as I felt foxes did), but with rapturous presence. It stopped briefly just up a slight rise in the path, looked back at us as if to say: ‘Did you see me?’ then plunged into its lair.
An amazing walk, not to mention all the birds we saw, and the ever changing cloud formations on a windy day. This highlights to me that when we take our time to slow down, to just be, to not fill our head with incessant thinking, we begin to see more visually what is happening on the ground. In fact, I’d go as far to say that we’re not sending out brain waves into the landscape; we’re calmer, and so wildlife tends to be less afraid and comes more into view. This is speculation on my part, but in the current state of being I’m in, I’m curious about such matters. Certainly, what we think can manifest into reality. Perhaps by being calmer, we’re influencing the world around us into being more calm.
Happy New Year, everyone!