Dipping into the Stream #3
Our town of Sharon, Massachusetts hosted a series of "One Book One Town" events this year featuring "10% Happier" by Dan Harris. The book is about how meditation and mindfulness can help most people be at least a little bit happier. One of the events was a writing "contest" using the theme of "happiness." I quickly remembered how my quiet walks and contemplation on Moose Hill helped me find no small measure of happiness and self-awareness. I remembered one blog post in particular about how I spent a morning sitting on a rock, eating breakfast and observing as nature and my own thoughts passed before me. I condensed the blog post (A 500 word limit is draconian!) and submitted it, hoping to share my experience with others who might seek solace in the forest.
I was appropriately "happy" to learn that my entry won second place and I might get to read it live in a few days.
My contest entry is below. The original appeared in this blog in August of 2007.
Dipping into the Stream #3I have discovered that sitting in quiet solitude in the woods is a way to help bring peace to a troubled mind. Among the trees, the noise and tumult of the modern world fall away and I can simply think about things. I am lucky to be within walking distance of the Moose Hill wildlife sanctuary. I like to hike up there and sit on my favorite rock, face the rising sun and enjoy my breakfast and coffee. I sit and listen to the subtle sounds of the forest and idly dip into my thoughts and daydreams as they flow by.
On one visit I was thinking about how I saw Dr. Wayne Dyer talking about the Tao Te Ching on PBS. One point I heard Dyer make was “Change your thoughts and change your life.”
I have discovered that sitting alone in nature helps me focus on things that are bothering me. I might discover, acknowledge and confront previously hidden problems that are causing unease. I find that once a problem is identified, writing it down in my journal might help me find a solution. Sometimes the solution may be simply understanding the error in the way I am thinking about something. Maybe something is bugging me and all I need to do is realize that it really has nothing to do with me, it’s none of my business, it is of no concern to me, and I should just let it go.
While some may teach that changing our thoughts in this way is all that matters, and this may sometimes be true, I also believe that to be happier, many thoughts should lead to positive action. It’s through our actions that we change our lives for the better and through our actions that people know us. That’s why, after I identify what it is that is troubling me, I often find peace by visualizing a plan of action. These plans are a means to smooth out a turbulent life and bring calm to the mind. Some of these actions may be simple, like finishing a nagging task I’ve been putting off. Others might be a bit more challenging, like fixing a broken career or wounded relationship. Sometimes, just seeing a path forward can still the emotions and bring hope.
Actions are important, especially if they spring from thoughts that bring peace to a troubled mind. I like to think that peaceful minds lead to a peaceful world. Upon first meeting, it is almost customary for people to ask: “What do you do?” Perhaps a more important and interesting question might be: “What do you think about?”
This is the sort of food for thought I seek in the forest, and at that point, my real food is usually gone so I go on my way, satisfied with the mental nourishment Moose Hill has provided. I head for home hoping I might be able to incorporate a little of my Moose Hill dreaming into my everyday life.