A Tribute to Earth Day: The Secrets to Meditation May be Hidden in Mother Earth’s Music
I think it’s fair to say that most of us have experienced some form of catastrophic thinking during these odd and uncertain times. You are not alone if you have pictured the absolute worst possible outcome of our current situation. This catastrophic mindset can lead to distorted thinking, then distorted feelings, and ultimately anxiety and depression. Thankfully, most of the things we worry about never happen. As the wise writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne once said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” How can we eliminate catastrophic thinking, distorted cognitions, and a racing mind? Years ago I was a teacher in a first grade classroom at an inner city school. Most of the children attending this school were raised in poverty and some in extremely dire situations. Faris was a sweet and quiet boy who didn’t speak much. However, he did share with me that I sounded exactly like his mom and that made him happy. If my voice made him happy, then I was happy too! It was during a parent-teacher conference that I first met Faris’ mom. You can imagine my surprise to hear a high pitched voice with a heavy Indian accent. The next day I shared with Faris how lovely it was to meet his mother, but I was confused as to why he thought our voices sounded so similar. “Oh no,” he said with a giggle, “not your voices, but the clicking of your shoes on the tile.” He went on to explain that his mom’s shoes made the same sound, rhythm, and music as mine. Perhaps I should have been disappointed that he wasn’t paying attention to my voice or the lesson, but I wasn’t. I was thrilled that he was finding peace, solace, and meditation in rhythm and sound. Is meditation the key to calming our overactive minds? The other day I decided to put on my sneakers and take a walk. Not just any walk, a meditation walk. If Faris could find peace while listening to my footsteps all those years ago, why couldn’t I? The goal was to focus on the noise and rhythm of my shoes hitting the ground and nothing else. If my mind wandered, so be it. I’d just refocus on the noise of my shoes hitting the pavement. As much as I tried to focus on my footsteps, I couldn’t. I found myself walking on a deserted golf course near my house. I’ve been on this golf course many times before, but somehow it looked different today. Did I ever take the time to really see it? I don’t remember smelling gardenias here before! Did the rustle of those palm trees always sound like music? Do spider webs always look like lace gowns? Is the wind talking to me? Are the pine cones line dancing? Are the butterflies doing a waltz? Are the blades of grass swaying to the sounds of nature? Are the clouds doing ballet? Are the leaves on the trees clapping? Has it taken a global pandemic for the earth to speak up, to be heard, to be seen, to be noticed, to be appreciated? Perhaps the earth’s voice is just the gift we need, for those who will listen. When the earth heals, we heal ourselves. In honor of Earth Day on Wednesday April 22nd, let us all enjoy an Earth Day Meditative Concert: 1. Stand outside and listen. 2. Breath in through your nose, into your stomach, breath out through your mouth. 3. Focus on 5 things you hear. 4. Focus on 5 things you see. 5. Focus on 5 things you smell. 6. Focus on 5 things you feel. 7. Enjoy the rhythm of earth and its vibrations. 8. Express gratitude.