Each survival kit handed out to hikers in the Vallecitos Mountain Ranch wilderness includes a booklet about what to do if you’re lost. What fascinates me are the parallels between outdoor survival skills and the mindfulness qualities we cultivate to survive being lost in our urban stress.
I’m surprised to learn that children under six have one of the highest survival rates in the wilderness, better than physically fit, experienced hikers, hunters – skilled adults! When they’re cold, they warm up in a hollow tree. When they’re tired, they simply curl up and rest. They don’t push and exhaust themselves. They approach reality instinctively, finding comfort where they are.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,” said Zen master Suzuki Roshi. “In the expert’s mind there are few.” When we look at a situation through the lens of our past experience, often expectations and fears mislead us. When my head ignores my gut’s intuition, I get into trouble. Relying too heavily on what I’ve known in the past, I lose the intelligence and aliveness of the present moment, here, now.
I lose myself. We lose ourselves.
Mindfulness teaches us how to find ourselves, how to listen. We can look with fresh eyes and see the world as an open field of potential, ready for our adventures. With the lively gaze of mindfulness, we refresh our view of life, and of each other. Mindfulness is a lens, bright and clear; a light-gathering device to help us find our way.
Image Credit: T. Goodman