How hard is it to sit still? It’s one of those things that seems easy until you try it! I took up yoga precisely to help me with sitting still. Ah, the irony that movement has become such a dominant part of my practice now…! But even so I like to think I’m a tiny bit better now at simple sitting and accommodating the discomfort in my body and my mind.
The other evening was an interesting exercise in sitting still. Not on a cushion, not as part of a meditation practice. No, this was a real-life need for stillness: we were out badger-watching in a local wood. A couple of hours sitting buddha-like under a tree, silently waiting for the twilight to deepen, eyes fixed on the sett. It was a beautiful opportunity to notice the minute details of the natural world as it was around me just then. The veiny texture of the dried beech leaves I was sitting on, the slight hairiness of the fresher, green leaves that occasionally floated down from the canopy to land on my legs and head, the sounds of tree trunks knocking together in the wind, the feel of that breeze cooling my face and reassuring me we were definitely downwind of the sett. And as I sat in wonder at all this, I reminded myself that one interpretation of PYS 1.1 runs “Now this is yoga as I have observed it in the natural world” — in case you wondered where the yoga was in this blog post! 🙂
We had to wait more than an hour before the first badgers appeared. To be honest I only spotted the first one because of my inability to sit completely still. I was growing cold and my shoulder is bothering me at the moment so I was, I admit, taking a moment to do some neck exercises to ease the growing stiffness. And as I looked over my left shoulder I realised there was a badger trotting through the trees behind me! Adult badgers have very limited sight (they develop cataracts early in adult life) but they compensate with a great sense of smell and since he’d come from the opposite direction than I expected I’m sure he could detect me. But he just did his thing — trotting along with great purpose and surprisingly quickly, a stop for snuffling into the leaves and then on again.
I saw a couple more badgers during the evening and a brief glimpse of a small deer. Lucky me. Then home to some hot food before bed. It was a beautiful experience, the closeness to nature, the simplicity of simply sitting and watching for whatever might happen — or not happen. It was a moment of complete connectedness and yet disconnectedness. No responsibility or control, no mobile phone, no words possible or necessary. No photos either, so just a pic my feet as I settled in at the start of the vigil which might give you an idea of the scene.
feature image credit: dailymail.co.uk