The ocean has been cold again this week, good weather for the kelp! Did you know that in ideal conditions kelp can grow from 12 inches to 18 inches in one day? Did you know kelp stores carbon as efficiently as tropical rainforests? The kelp in the Pacific Ocean nourishes thousands of species who graze on the blades (leaves); it shelters fish, seals, sea-lions and whales who seek safety and refuge in the forest fronds; the anchoring roots are home to anemones, sponges, and starfish. Sea otters take naps wrapped in a kelp frond hammock so they don’t drift out to sea while they’re sleeping.
One of the great joys of my life is watching folks who practice meditation grow like kelp, in insight and love! Insight or mindfulness meditation is a way to transform the experience of suffering and let go of what is not needed in my life. Humans are a different species, obviously not brown algae like kelp, but all life needs certain conditions to exist and thrive. The ideal conditions for kelp to grow – upwelling cool water to bring nutrients to the kelp forest, strong rock foundation to anchor the holdfasts during winter storms, light for photosynthesis – remind me of what’s needed to cultivate strong mindfulness.
Loving awareness is the cool water, the upwelling of nourishment for our hungry hearts; the foundations of mindfulness are the rock that anchors stability of presence when the heart wants to turn away; and mindful awareness illuminates my life. Like the refuge of the kelp forest, a steady meditation practice shows me how to rest and relax with things as they are, without getting uprooted and lost at sea. Nature, the ocean, the teachings of loving awareness can provide shelter from stormy weather and global uncertainty. Understanding the conditions needed to be of benefit, we humans, like kelp, can be an ecological treasure. Nourishing yourself with a regular practice, you flourish and become a treasure—nurturing all those around you.