Nature Allow Us to Take Learnings

A few years ago, I took a vacation in a beautiful part of Portugal. We were in an old Farmhouse in the middle of a National Park. The farm was located in a valley. We arrived in the evening when the birds were just starting to breed. It was still warm and the air smelled of pollen. You could hear the buzzing of crickets. A small river flowed through this valley. We opened a hinged door and crossed a small wooden bridge. As we walked along the narrow path leading to our house, I had a clear idea of what my morning routine would look like for the next fourteen days. I had been working hard the last few months and I was feeling tired. I wanted this holiday to become a mini-retreat. I woke up early every day when it was still quite cold and meditated for a while. I imagined sitting in a peaceful place, my mind is calm, my body relaxed… listening to the river flowing, listening to the birds and wildlife starting to move, feeling the first rays of the morning sun fall on my face as it rises to the top of the hill. Present. Even though I’m writing this now, it feels like heaven to me.

I got up early the next morning and it was exactly as I had imagined. There is nothing more beautiful than the silence of the morning. It was a sweet and peaceful feeling that enveloped me. It did not come from me, but seemed to come from the earth, the river, and the mountains. Everything was clearer than usual. The mind was not rushing here and there as it usually does. I had never been to this place before, but it felt welcoming and familiar. I found a place to sit quietly. I could hear the quiet buzzing of insects. The air was very calm and there was only a slight breeze from time to time. A Fly landed on my Face. After a moment or two, I carefully raised my hand and gently led him away. Then another fly landed on my face. And another one. And another one. The feeling I had felt a few moments ago was gone. That first morning, I endured about thirty minutes of light torment before admitting defeat and retiring to the farm.

In the following days, I experimented with different approaches. I went to another place to escape the flies. I went at different times of the day. I had been practicing meditation for many years and faced all kinds of distractions and obstacles in the past. I was sure it would be no different. I had heard many stories and parables about similar experiences, in which the “lesson” is this: “Your resistance to things that are not the way you want them to be is the true source of your suffering. Drop your resistance. Let go of your attachment to things that are in a certain way”. Word. I repeated the same words several times to the others. The words made sense to me and I believed them. I said these words to myself now. I was trying to feel compassion for every fly that landed on me. I tried to change my point of view. I tried to feel the movements of each fly simply as a pure sensation on my skin. I remembered that flies are an important part of the ecosystem and I tried to appreciate each fly. I lied to myself. Things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. I really hated those flies. I just felt irritated and tense. I was in a constant state of Vigilance… I waited for the next flight to land on my skin, knowing that I had to endure its presence “in full consciousness” for as long as possible until I finally decided to “cut it in full consciousness”… knowing also that she would inevitably return in a few moments. I considered leaving my Plan to practice outdoors in nature and moving to the farm. However, I am stubborn and I still endured some morning mental torment.

The fact that I couldn’t give up my resistance to certain things made things worse. I’m also getting mad at myself now. The more I tried to be patient and accept the flies, the worse I felt. All these efforts have added unnecessary layers of suffering to my experience. No More Words. I already knew that. I had often heard this advice in the past: “Stop trying. When you practice, just allow everything to be exactly as it is.”

That morning I sat in a protected place near the river under an old stone oak tree. If you look at me from afar, you might think that I am in heaven. I didn’t feel like I was in heaven when a Lone fly methodically explored the back of my hand and several others buzzed peril close to my face. A question came to mind: what would actually happen at that moment if I did nothing and let everything be exactly as it is? I began to conduct my experiment.

The familiar feeling of a fly landing on my face. Except for this time, my natural response was to smile: “thank you for reminding me to draw my attention to the present Mr. Fly”! I noticed the Feeling of Gratitude and Appreciation. The sensations were no longer unpleasant. With every movement, the fly reminded me to stay here with my current experience. So, you have read this news. No More Words. More intellectual ideas. Maybe you agree and decided to accept the idea, or maybe you disagree and decided to reject the idea. It doesn’t matter. An intellectual understanding of something is not the same as a lived experience.

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