On Saturday morning I felt compelled to go to my local botanical garden. I say compelled because I had so many chores to do Saturday that I really didn’t have the time. Yet, I went.
When I entered the grounds, I wandered around a bit, snapping photos, until I found myself in a little area called “The Garden of the Senses.” This area is comprised of plants that have strong fragrances or are unique to the touch. A stone bird-bath with a fountain was situated in the middle surrounded by some arbor-covered benches. I realized then how tense I was and how much I needed to relax.
I settled on the bench and set my bag and camera aside. I sat upright without reclining on the back of the seat. I set my feet flat on the ground and let my hands and arms rest on the top of my knees. I closed my eyes and took in a long breath.
I focused my attention on my neck and face as I slowly exhaled. Then I did the same for my shoulders and so forth until I had focused my thoughts on each area of my body, releasing tension with each inward and outward breath.
Whenever a wayward thought entered my mind, such as what I needed to do that day or the trials of the past week, I would simply let them pass by and resettled my thoughts on my breath.
Soon, I became acutely aware of my surroundings. In the Garden of the Senses, I could smell the sweet and pungent fragrances of Rosemary and Mexican sage. I could hear birds chirping, the movement of the gardener in an adjacent patch, and the sound of dribbling water. I felt the breeze touching my face and arms. I opened my eyes and saw that about eight or ten little brown sparrows had settled into the bird bath, completely unaware of my presence and happily thrashing about.
Then I felt a sting on my ankles. I looked down and saw that I had situated myself near a string of black ants and some had commenced crawling on my feet and ankles. I decided that it was time to move on. Feeling refreshed and relaxed, I picked up my gear and began wandering along the paths of the garden.
I entered a patch of dahlias and cockscombs. Many of them were high, almost eye level with me and were of all manner of colors. Butterflies and bees were everywhere, flitting and buzzing from flower to flower. Being cautious of the bees, I slowly made my way through the patch. Then, something shiny caught my eye.
I approached a red cockscomb and saw that the flash was an iridescent beetle quietly grazing on the flower face. In the morning sun, the beetled glittered like a jewel in an amazing array of greens, blues, and pinks.
Generally, I am not fond of insects, but I was totally mesmerized and stood for several minutes observing the beetle. Then I realized that I had been called to garden to witness this simple but glorious display of nature.
The lessons I learned this morning are these:
I need to heed the call of the wild and enjoy the outdoors as frequently as I can;
I need to do deep breathing meditations more often, once a day for a few minutes to deal with daily stressors;
I need to be completely open to the surprises and wonders that nature offers.
Not a bad way to spend a morning, don’t you think?
Images and Text, Lori G. © 2007
Images: Mexican Sage; Green Beetle