This weekend I enjoyed snapping a few shots of the visitors at Nanny's bird feeder at the farm. I would sit and wait patiently for one of my little friends to daringly approach the perch and slowly raise my camera to shoot. Sometimes they would see me and dart away, while other times they would almost pose as I studied each intricate detail through my lens, lining up my camera for the perfect capture. Eventually I learned to just be ready, positioning my camera in front of me so I could seize the moment when a visitor decided to stay for awhile.
I sat there for awhile, observing the behavior and admiring the diligence of the birds as they returned to the feeder time and time again to grab a few seeds and then return to their nests. The blue jays were particularly notorious for this 'stashing' technique. They would actually take the seeds, hold them in their feet and then break them open and store them in their throats.
I began to practice mindfulness, a technique used to connect and be in the moment. It's something that I use daily; it's a difficult practice but it helps me to be in touch and aware of my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It's about not thinking about the past or future but just being in the here and now. Our minds spend on average 47% of our time somewhere else versus in the present. Being mindful means taking a nonjudgmental stance on our thoughts, recognizing them for what they are and then letting them go.
I found that watching the bird feeder could be made into a simple exercise to practice letting go of thoughts so that we can be in the here and now and make space in our brains to take in the world around us. Just as birds approached the feeder, so do our thoughts approach our mind. As they come, we can sit and observe a thought, without criticizing and judging them as good or bad, or right or wrong. And then, as quickly as the thought came, we can let it go.
If we are able to think about our thoughts in this way, we are able to get 'unstuck' and move forward in the process. An uncluttered, focused mind is a happy, more productive one. And Lord knows, we all want that in our lives!