Alice gets mindful (10)

Lessons learned from nature

Mindfulness has taken a bit of a back seat lately. Actually, ‘bit’ is an understatement to say the least. And it’s not as if I’ve chosen to push it to the background on purpose, it’s simply that, for several weeks now, my diary has been chockablock full with stuff to do. Crammed with all sorts: a number of projects that had deadlines one straight after another; visiting high schools with my son (and eventually selecting one); the renovation of our bathroom and toilet (with decision-upon-decision needing to be made about things like tiles, taps, electricity connection points, and the height of the sink); and—naturally—that led to the fact that we suddenly needed new cables to be laid under the house so that our Internet connection would be better and faster (which admittedly is a good thing when you work from home so often). So when my husband declared that we really have to get our act together and book our summer holiday asap, I thought my head would explode. I had spent so long in the ‘organizing zone’ that I couldn’t even bear to think about organizing one teeny tiny thing more. I didn’t want to have to make any more decisions. Not one. No matter what it was about.

And then something good happened. I was on my way to town and I cycled through a park where hundreds of brightly-colored crocuses were just starting to bloom in all their intensity. Each year, this blossoming field marks the advent of spring, and each year I get so much pleasure from seeing it. But this time it felt different. The crocuses stood there, blossoming so peacefully and patiently that I asked myself: ‘What is it you worry about?’ And, at that moment, I understood what people mean when they say that nature puts things into perspective. You can stress yourself out through working so hard, stand on your head to get things done, be on cloud nine or seriously sick: nature doesn’t give one iota. Nature is busy doing its own thing: getting on with the business of blooming or shedding its leaves. Nature is indifferent to what is happening to you. And, on the one hand, this feels rather cold but on the other, there is something immensely reassuring and calming about this. Whatever happens in your life: nature will continue down its own path. And is always there. It made me think of the quote by [Dutch author and artist] Jan Wolkers: “The good thing about nature is that it moves slowly. Nature has the time.” Then I realized just how much I had missed nature over the recent period of time. Because between the trees, in a field of flowers, alongside a dike, in the dunes, by the sea—it is in places such as these that decisions don’t need to be made. Nothing is ever asked of me. Because nature is simply doing its own thing. And the trick is to always turn to it—even (or perhaps, especially) when your head is full of things.

Alice is General Managing Editor of Flow International and the Specials. In her regular blogs on our website, she shares what an eight-week mindfulness course she followed has brought her and whether her life has become more mindful because of it.