The idea of Walk with Joy is to experience how to see with new eyes. How to wake up to the world around you and be present. How are we going to do this? Spend time, daily, looking at an image of nature to practice how to focus on the detail and really see and experience beauty. Why? because nature has much to teach and when we connect with the beauty outside we connect with the beauty within. This is the road of stillness, freedom and happiness where you will Walk with Joy.
If you are anything like me you want to be expert in the first 5 minutes. Well, the best way to achieve that is to practice little and often, daily in fact, to get into the swing of looking in a different more focused way. This is not something you learn, it’s something you do. It will, with time, become perfectly natural and you will start to see(and be) without thinking – without engaging your mind, which is the point. Your whole awareness will open up as the world presents itself to you.
What are you waiting for? jump in – abandon any limiting thoughts about not being able to keep it up, this isn’t going to work or what a pointless exercise etc etc etc. Just do it, enjoy it and start now.
First we need to disengage your mind. All spiritual disciplines acknowledge that to calm the mind we need to regulate the breath. Easy. So.
To prepare yourself for gazing at the daily picture. Here is short centering and breathing exercise.
First, sit down, preferably in a chair which supports your back upright.
Put your feet flat on the floor directly below your knees. Rock from side to side to locate your ‘sitting bones’ beneath your buttocks.
Close your eyes. Imagine a thread coming from the top of your head gently lifting up your spine.
Drop your shoulders and allow your head to fall forward slightly.
Breathe out completely emptying your lungs.
Breathe in from your abdomen, counting slowly until your lungs are filled – 3 or 4 should do it – hold it for a couple of seconds then -
Exhale slowly, counting out to the same number.
Breathe in and out twice more.
If thoughts come into your head, just let them float on by.
If you want to continue the breathing exercise for longer you could set a timer for 1-2 minutes -otherwise open your eyes and gaze at the picture. Allow yourself 2 minutes to start with and progress to 5 over the next few days.
Avoid naming anything – that engages the judgemental mind and the ego – the ‘small’ self. This practice is about connecting with your big ‘true’ self.
Allow yourself to become part of the image, to rest within it.
Let your eyes to wander slowly within the image. See what catches your attention and connect with it. Study the detail, enjoy it, as if your were going to draw what you have seen or describe it in detail to someone else. Engage with your own wonder, imagine looking at the image as if you are a child.
If the business of your day starts to interfere, how much longer is this going to take, why am I wasting my time doing this or what I am going to cook tonight?, just acknowledge the thoughts and let them float away. Fr. Thomas Keating suggests placing them on boats floating past on a stream before you. When the time is up. Just be. Sense and stay with how you are feeling.
Before you leave, scroll down and read the awareness exercise for that day – something to take with you, to remind you to stop and be in the moment through the rest of your day. Experience everything around you. See the beauty and connect with it. See how it changes your day.
Let me know and see you tomorrow.
With love, Joy