ECS Wellbeing: Bishop Martin’s Awareness Practice – Week 9

Perhaps in the next few months, well all be able gradually move to have more adventurous walks, including perhaps with friends. However, the practice I have for you this week, you can start using it now! In many ways, this practice of NOTICING has much in common with all the practices Ive been suggesting so far.  


 Not just seeing but noticing

In a selection of poems by Edward Thomas [early 1900s]the compiler has included some of his field notes, which he jotted down on his walks. At first, I thought them tedious! But, I soon realised that Edward Thomas noticing went beyond just seeing. Thomas lived with awareness in the present moment as he walked and noted down the tiniest detail of the natural world that be came across, as if every experience was a revelation, which of course it is! It may be difficult, and even not possible, for some of you to go out even for a brief walk, let alone remember to take a notebook and pencil. But all of us have a least one window – or an iPhone to take photographs and jot down a little note. And even if that’s difficult, you can make your way into your imagination and bring into the present a favourite walk.  

A suggestion 

 Take with you, on your walk [or in your imagination], a little notebook and a pencil to jot down brief notes – headings of what you notice, no matter how usual or unusual. Even the mundane [boring!] and downright ugly can be worth you noticing. Colours, shadows, shapes, sounds, smells [!] – and questions. ‘Heaven in the ordinary’ [George Herbert]. If you find yourself standing [or sitting!] for a few seconds, all the better. In fact, you might be gawping, day-dreaming –  that apparently aimless staring! [gawping is an important spiritual practice!!] Then drawing a little sketch, or writing a word or two? To see the world in a grain of sand’ [William Blake]. This practice becomes a way of praying. Prayer is something every human being does, whether you believe or not, its quite natural and instinctive. This deepening awareness of whats around you is healing and strengthening. Well-being! 

In my tiny back garden, theres a family of Goldfinches. I wrote down in my notebook: Noisy, messy, agitated, beautiful, angry with other birds…More in number than even a year ago…Dont know anything about them! 

An important note 

 Its vitally important not to turn this practice into another lesson’ which will be examined! No. Just let the practice be its own experience.  

4 March 2021
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