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Mindful : October 2019
Plant Life IF YOU TAKE a close look at plastic flowers and then compare them to living flowers, what’s the salient difference? It’s that the living flowers are also dying flowers. The very fact that they have a life span and you can see that change before your eyes is key to their beauty. When you can, take a little time to observe the fragility of a flower. Even a silk flower fades in the sunlight and a plastic flower will eventually become brittle. Seasons SOME PLACES HAVE four very distinct seasons. In other places, the seasonal change is subtler, but no place on Earth is without seasonal changes in temperature, light, precipitation, plant life—providing an excellent opportunity to revel in the changes. One Japanese approach to nature and food even divides the year into 72 micro-seasons, of about five days each. (And yes, there is an app for that.) Next to my desk is a wide, tall window, and I make sure to look out from it each day and check out the seasonal change. In early spring, the branches are bare, in midspring they are spare, by late spring and summer, they hang down from the weight of leaves, blossoms, and seeds. In autumn, they are colorful. In winter, they are skeletal. Light FOR YEARS, MY brother lived on the side of a mountain. When I would visit him, I used to love to sit on his porch as late afternoon gave way to evening and nighttime. We tend to think of the color of something we see as fixed, but it is not. Colors change all the time in relation to light. In bright light, the trees on my brother’s mountain are mostly bright green. As the light fades, they are dark green, and then black, no more than a silhou- ette. Are we not just the same, not one color, but many colors? → PHOTOGRAPHBYDEEPOLBYPLAINPICTURE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Frank Ostaseski, leading exper t in contemplative end-of-life care, is the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, founder of the Metta Institute, international lecturer, and author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. Allow all experience to arise without any interference— no inside, no outside. Relax your ownership of thoughts. Look and see the difference between being lost in thought and being mindful of thought. It’s like when a sound occurs in the room, or a bird flies by, you just notice the sound of the bird; you don’t think it’s you. Let it be that way with your thoughts and sensations, everything coming, everything going in a vast, open space. It can be helpful to think about what happens when you walk into a room: Most people see the chairs or tables or the objects in the room and fail to see the space. Let yourself be aware of the space surrounding all the activity, all the coming and going. Remember, what- ever we can give space to can move. Keep allowing all the thoughts, all the sensations, all the feelings to rise and dis- appear in the vast spacious- ness, like clouds in the sky. Finally, let your attention come to the awareness itself, vast, transparent, clear, not disturbed by anything that’s coming and going. Welcome everything, push away nothing. October 2019 mindful 59 acceptance