Urban Mindfulness Episode Three: The Place Within
Written By Laura Simms, Award-Winning Storyteller
I once asked a bird, “How is it that you fly in this gravity of darkness?”
She responded, “Love lifts me.”
If we uncover and become familiar with the space within ourselves – inherent, and alive with compassion, empathy, and wonder – we will be able to restore ourselves daily so that we can function for our own well being and that of others, regardless of circumstance. We will take joy in the fact that we are part of the web of earth and spirit. We will even find solutions beyond aggression or fear. What I am talking about is a love affair without conditions or reference point. It is not about romance or anything at all. But everything. It is about a territory incomprehensible and accessible, untarnishable, unexplainable, and ceaselessly intelligent. It is always available so we are told because it is the fabric of our own mind like the sky is to clouds. It is the source of refreshment. The place where ancient ritual brought us into union with being. It is the end of fairytales where we celebrate the long journey of heroes and heroines who find one another and get married. A child in a full auditorium of second graders listened, along with everyone, to a 55-minute story. In the end, she called out, “I forgot the story.” I was startled and inquired, “What happened?” She responded, “I got married.”
That is what we discover through the practice of mindfulness/awareness.. Since it is natural, sometimes all we have to do is a pause and slow down and listen. Or when realizing that we are caught in a personal saga so engaging that we have lost touch with where we are and trip, or bump into someone, and come back awake. Anything can become our breath although that is the fundamental place of focus when we sit down on a cushion for a formal session of meditation. It is necessary to make the world our friend and teacher.
One day on Broadway rushing. My mind was racing through something I forgot, old anger around accompanied by a litany of proof of what someone had done to me. My feet were pushing me before my body in order to get nowhere quicker, I suddenly heard the sound of a hawk. I looked up at a familiar window sill above a shop. Large and regal, it sat perusing the street. Then because I was quiet, I heard the flapping of wings. A hundred pigeons appeared soaring in a cacophony of directions in the attempt to escape and confuse the hawk. This sky dance of something beyond my preoccupation stopped me. My heart ached and soared. The pigeons vanished. The hawk flew away. The rest of their story is unknown to me. But the moment woke me up.
I stood, on the street, listening. My dilemma suddenly did not feel so large. The subway hardly heard out of habit, seemed incredibly loud. Children were laughing in a schoolyard two blocks away. A homeless man was singing and the wind blew against a shutter as a horn honked like a goose on the street three times.
An old friend passed by. He said, “Laura you look like you are in love.” I laughed, “I am.” “With whom?” he questioned eager for a story, for gossip, or a secret. I said, “No. I am just in love.” “Come on you can tell me.” He urged. And then we burst out laughing.
Laura Simms is an award-winning performer, writer, and educator advocating storytelling as compassionate action for personal and community transformation. She performs worldwide combining ancient myth and true life stories for adult and family audiences. She is the Artistic Director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in NY and the founder of The Center for Engaged Storytelling (new). Check out more by Laura here.
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