Another lesson in seeing

morning-viewThis morning while I was engaged in a short morning sit, my daughter peeked her head into the room. She was holding her bunny lovey and several other stuffed animals under one arm, and watched silently until I gestured that she could come in.

Over the remaining fifteen minutes, she sat, scooted, scampered, created a fort of meditation cushions and yoga blocks for her orange-and-black stripped Tiger, and only occasionally spoke aloud to me, quickly falling back into quiet when I put one finger to my lips. This is noteworthy for my “spirited” child who brings a loud, energetic presence into our daily lives. I suspect that something about my own intentional stillness this morning – and the fact that I’ve been slowly introducing mindfulness to her, over the years – contributed to her response.

Perhaps something in the stillness called out to her, to her own busy body, as well. 

At the end, I pulled her to sit in front of me and together we gazed out the window at a cloudy autumn morning sky framed above a line of Douglas firs. This practice of mindful seeing (allowing the eyes to receive, redirecting attention back when the mind wanders) – this is what re-connected me recently to my formal sitting meditation practice. Since I’ve returned more regularly to a sitting practice, I’ve noticed a feeling of coming home to a place that has been waiting, all along. A deeper, wiser, enduring self. 

During one of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction professional courses I completed with UMASS Center for Mindfulness staff in 2012, Saki Santorelli invited us to stand and to gaze out a window at the brightening sky. Over a hundred of us, mindfulness instructors-in-training and current mindfulness students, all mixed together, standing and seeing, in a hotel conference room outside Boston. That experience of standing meditation, eyes wide open, was one of the most powerful exercises I’ve engaged in over the past ten years.

Through seeing this morning, I drink in the larger world that surrounds me. I feel grateful for the eyes that see, and for the practice of seeing, which allows me to widen the container of a body that I sometimes struggle to inhabit. Most of all, I feel grateful that I am able to share this experience with my daughter, that I am awake enough – seeing, listening – to appreciate how precious each moment is.

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