Practice takes many forms. For some, it is yoga movement, mindfully moving the body and attending to the breath to bring body and mind to stillness. For others, it is sitting quietly to attend to breath and gently coax the mind’s activity to calm. For others, it’s a long bike ride, hike or kayak, feeling the body in rhythmic movement while attending to the road, the waves, the trail and the weather. For others still, it’s sitting to write or pausing one’s motion to listen to a child tell their story. In the summer, feeling the sun on our skin, listening to the waves at the beach or the birds in the trees can all become practice. Whatever and whenever we practice, the effort brings us to the present moment, to that place where we are attentive and aware of life as it happens. Dropping the ruminations of what has come before and the desires of what may come next, sitting in the present moment allows us, at last, to truly experience the deliciousness of life with our whole being. Renowned poet Mary Oliver expresses it perfectly in this excerpt from her poem “The Summer Day”:
“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Excerpted from Mary Oliver New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA