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9 unexpected mindful benefits of the fledgling twitcher

Not a common old garden bird, the crane is the animal that represents fire, summer, the heart in Elemental Qi Gong

I recently received a new pair of binoculars and have spent the last month learning how to use them and practising getting them to my eyes in time before the subject of my interest moves off!  I am not a twitcher (by definition) yet, as all I see are common hedgerow birds – nothing rare – but oh boy is it a pleasure to see these small tits – blue, coal, willow, great – and robins and brown things I haven’t identified yet, all puffed up against the cold.  But here’s the rub – who’d have thought that these binoculars and my new-found passion has led to an “in” on the whole mindfulness gig like I’ve never experienced before.

This is why:

  1. I have to look up – therefore broadening my perceptual field, that is everything you sense in the present moment.
  2. By permanently looking up I am no long watching my step.  Instead I have to FEEL where I am putting my feet.  This is such a NEW phenomena for me. Those who know me probably notice that I usually shuffle, head down and I’m always knocking into things.
  3. By having to look up, one becomes more in ones body, the spine is aligned, the feet are grounded, the head tipped back and the core muscles engaged.  There’s is a sense of open-ness, a sense of Wu Chi.  Wu Chi is the state of no-mind, a state of prepared relaxation, in the moment, connected to Heaven and Earth, according to those who practise the ancient Chinese art of Qi Gong.
  4. My breathing slows, and the autonomic nervous system is prepared but not switched on (or off).
  5. My mind HAS to clear.  I’ve noticed you can’t physically hear the birds if your head is full of other noise.  Once this happens, then wow! there’s a sense of heightened reality.  Everything is magnified, including the thing through the magnifying lens of the binocular.
  6. I am no expert bird watcher, but I’ve quickly learned when they don’t like to come out (low cloud base, high wind, in the shadows) and where they like to congregate (lee side, in the sunshine, on berry or nut-laden bushes and trees).  I’ve also learned they are mischievous – disturbing the upper branches enough to dislodge the snow onto my upturned head.
  7. I am so delighted about the little ones visiting my garden that I can no longer watch the television, instead I listen to the television, whilst I’m looking through my binocs, I’m out there with my simple sparrows (the brown things!), being present to their world, whilst aware of my own.  This is the relational field that I work in as a therapist – attuned to that Being’s history and future expectations.
  8. This is a resource that sets me back to neutral, makes me be in the present moment, aware that there is a time and place for everything and everyone.  There is a universal order and I am filled with a sensation that I am OK in that universal order, no matter what else is going on in my life.  I am OK in the HERE and NOW.  How do I know that?  I feel it in the straightness and strength of my spine, with a sense of alignment.
  9. Now I have an “embodied sensation” of how I feel OK in the world when I bird watch.  I can now use this “shortcut” to get back to that sensation of wellness, of oneness, wherever I am, be there birds or not.  This is just one of many resources, that help me to become and remain present, when a stressful situation arises.

What do you do to feel OK, in the HERE and NOW?  and how does that feel in your body?

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