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“Be mindful in everything that you do.” -Someone said once

Remaining mindful. Yoga practice teaches us to remain mindful in everything we do, staying present in the moment so that we can become more aware of the simple nuances of life; forgotten details that may bring us pleasure in an otherwise dull moment.

Sitting here in Johannesburg, South Africa, reading my yoga magazine in the morning air, I took a moment to stretch and lengthen my tres major; a small muscle in your shoulder which, apparently, has a major supportive roll in balancing upside-down poses. Just then a speckled bird flew into the Peppercorn tree outside my balcony and began hopping around from one branch to the next, picking at the unripened peppercorn fruit that hangs in bunches. My mind was marveling at the colorful patterns on it’s feathers, recognizing a parallel with the native attire and body paint of the more rural tribes in Africa. The bird’s shape was very similar to New England’s red cardinal, especially the Alfalfa crown feathers, so it was very strange to see the red replaced with bright strokes of yellow on it’s head and belly. White polka-dotted black feathers covered the wing, tail and backside. Like salt and pepper. Happily picking at the berries, I found it’s choice of breakfast fitting as, not knowing it’s real name, I had decided to dub it the African Pepper-pickers, as though I were a scientific explorer of a new land tasked with cataloging the exotic wildlife.

Of course my musings only lasted but a minute or less because my next thought quickly overpowered the first; I should write this down for my blog! I ran inside to fetch my brand new journal and choose the right pen that would allow my ideas to glide onto the page and when I returned, the bird had gone.

Remaining mindful. Living in the moment. Appreciating what life gives you. Often when I encounter a thing of beauty I try so hard to live in the moment and appreciate it fully that my mind becomes a battlefield of intense focus and a million other thought. Striving to find peace is simply a paradox. The artist in me instantly begins making plans on how to capture the fleeting beauty, distracting me from focusing on the moment and when the moment has passed I’m left feeling a little guilty that I didn’t appreciate the moment enough. I’m also afraid that the next moment won’t pass my way for a long time, as if these moments are comets making an arduous journey around the Universe before returning my way.

Flowers bloom then wilt away. The sun shines and then it’s covered by a passing cloud. A butterfly will breeze into view before fluttering drunkenly away. They are all beautiful and they are all fleeting. In the distance I can hear an African bird chorus. In this moment I feel a little breeze, I smell the morning air, I hear the water bubbling from a fountain in the yard next door and the neighborhood dogs are having their sun salutations conversation. I feel happy. In this moment I feel content and grateful. Soon my hostess will be calling me to begin the day of activities and this mornings experience will become a memory. What will remain?

Remaining mindful. As my mind is full of peace and contentment, I will relax, continue breathing fully throughout the day and remain in this state as long as possible. And I will not fear as the flowers, the sun and the butterfly will inevitably pass my way again.

They always do.

Sunrise in the Bush, South Africa

Child’s Pose; Ma’alaea Harbor, Maui, Hawai’i