March 26, 2013

The Practice of Noticing Small Things.

Between my house and my neighbors’, there is a butterfly bush.

In that butterfly bush there is a nest. And in that nest, which is not larger than the circumference of a ping-pong ball, there sits a mama hummingbird. Under the mama hummingbird there are two, teeny-tiny eggs.

Each day as we wash the dishes or prepare a meal, we can spot her, hovering by our kitchen window. She darts out and back in search of sustenance—her size and speed are remarkable.

Hummingbirds are the world’s smallest birds. For perspective, some species weigh less than a penny!

Her precariousness is humbling. Hummingbird metabolisms are so fast they must consume their own weight in nectar each day.

While they can slow into a hibernation-like state each evening, they can only store enough energy to survive overnight.

Hummingbirds live their lives almost hours away from starvation at all times!

We so enjoy watching this activities in this miniature world unfold each day as we spot her leaving the nest to gather food and coming home to keep the eggs warm. Her tiny head pokes over the edge of the moss and bits of leaves that make up her nest.  It is lined in spider silk.

We are both excited and nervous for the tiny birds to hatch. We’re concerned when it’s windy, when it rains, when the activities around us are boisterous. We high five on mild, sunny days.

Most of all, we marvel at the miraculousness and sweetness of this life unfolding outside our window.

And we wonder….how many other miracles like this one are unfolding under our noses that we’re just too busy, too self-absorbed, too unaware to experience?

It seems that noticing the small things is a practice—it’s all about paying attention.

When we watch a movie at home and pause for a break, the freeze frame on the screen reveals so many details, things that go unnoticed when the film is on at full speed.

We see that the book on the table has crinkled edges, the photo on the mantle, faded—the water in the glass, bubbly.

How often do you look on the ground when you are walking or really look closely at something or someone you love? How many times have you walked past that piece of art without really seeing the brush strokes?  If you’re like me, probably too often.

The world is made what it is each day in part by countless tiny, almost unnoticeable things. When we practice greeting the world with awareness we begin to tune into things, little things, happening all around us.

There are many ways to practice the skill of awareness. In my experience, the most direct route there is via meditation—even a brief meditation each day can increase your focus. And when we increase our focus on what is going on around us, what is happening in the moment, we become more present to the little things.

Next time you are at your desk or the kitchen table or sitting on the bus, look around. Then close your eyes for a few minutes. Then open them and notice what you didn’t see before.

There just might be a tiny miracle unfolding under your nose.




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Ed: Bryonie Wise

(Source: google.ca via Erin on Pinterest)


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