June 24, 2024

Magical Mindful Moments: Why Mindfulness Practice Matters.

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I live adjacent to a greenway in the middle of Charlotte, North Carolina.

We are on the other side of the creek, so maintenance is at a minimum. It is a haven for deer, owl, hawk, lizards, frogs, and snakes. A spectacular ecosystem, right outside my back door.

My mornings are spent in meditation or daily reading on my tree-covered deck to the soothing sounds of chirping birds. Mockingbirds, cardinals, wren, and bluebirds to name a few. My windchimes often gong bringing me back to the present moment; one especially sounds like an “Om.” I have worked hard to have a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the chaotic world we live in.

It was one such enchanting morning as my flowerpots overflowed with vibrant shades of purple, red, and orange amongst the multi-hued greenery. The air was crisp and clear, my deck speckled with sun under the canopy of several shade trees. The sky was Carolina Blue.

I was on my last cup of coffee, tending to watering flowers, pulling weeds, picking up sticks, and my last chore: scooping up the dog poop. I was entering the “poop zone” when I heard an expressive hawk.

Hawks are important to me; you can read about them in one of my previous pieces. “What Discovering Our Spirit Animal Can Teach Us.”

I stopped in my tracks and began looking for the spot where my animal friend was communicating with persistent hawk language. These were not the calls and response of courtship that we had been hearing the last few months. It took me a few minutes as I was checking the tallest tree branches, top of the rotten weeping willow, fence posts, and birdhouse roofs.

To my husband’s displeasure, one of our hawks’ and owls’ favorite places to perch is on his hand-painted bluebird houses. This was not the case this morning. She was hidden in plain sight, a foot or so above eye level on top of a piece of a homemade trellis my neighbors had left behind.

There were ancient rosebushes entangled on the 9-foot trellis of steel and white plastic lattice hidden in years of a once spectacular rose garden. I saved the 28-year-old pink peonies but was unsuccessful in my rose saving skills.

I relocated the lattice to the sunshine of the plush greenway last year, attempting to grow morning glories on it; they never got tall enough. Maybe next year I will try a vining vegetable.

The lattice provided the hawk with a perfect perch, in the shade with views in all directions. If she was quiet, as she unfolded her wings to take flight, all small creatures would scatter and the human eye would catch a beautiful moment as she soared through the trees. But she was not quiet this lovely morning. The hawk was perched majestically, at least 18 inches tall, her shrill cries demanding she be heard. A blend of rich browns and cinnamon reds, this hawk is definitely the queen of the greenway.

I stood silently, talking to her, thanking her for watching out for my family and I. She was insistent and never stopped squawking noisily—an odd behavior based on our past encounters. I changed my dialog and asked her what she wanted, and instead of looking at her, she asked me to follow her gaze. I took a deep breath, because I was still enough to “listen,” and looked where she was looking.

On the edge of my property was a mama and baby deer. Just as I followed the hawks’ gaze, mama had turned her baby around and began retreating into the brush. We had been seeing this baby nursing for about a week or so, being careful as not to disturb the bonding time. I quietly backed up to my deck and joined the hawk, perching on my black iron tall bistro set.

As soon as I was more invisible the squawking became more intermittent; the mama and baby deer relaxed. They continued their morning ritual of feeding, cleaning, and playing. For a good 20 minutes or so, the hawk and I silently kept watch.

The normal day-to-day chatter of the greenway residents commenced. You could hear the bouncing of bright yellow pickleballs on the other side of the greenway. The whooshing of bicycle tires and sounds of children playing on the playground. Wind in the air causing the trees to lightly sway and windchimes to jingle. Squirrels resumed their morning exercise routine running up and down the trees, fence posts, and power lines. Chipmunks carefully scurried on the ground from burrow to burrow, almost game-like knowing a hawk was nearby. The bird song carried on, serene sounds of a healthy environment.

This lovely June morning was a gift. I felt as if I was part of a magical growing up experience for this little deer. Learning from the voices of the hawk. I am pretty sure in the grand scheme of things hawk and momma knew I was not a threat. After all, the mama deer was probably a baby here a few years back and was familiar with Tucker’s barking and my fenced-in gardening zone. The hawk and I have had many respectful encounters.

But being mindful allowed me to witness the beauty of the situation. I could have been in my own head and shoveled poop with my worn green children’s shovel and up-cycled plastic bag from Walmart not noticing the warning signs from our resident hawk.

I added to the positive soft energy of the unfolding morning, connecting to an invisible power greater than myself. A feeling that I can tap into over and over again because of my experience that morning.

This is why a mindfulness practice matters.

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