What Mindfulness Is Not

by mkriegh

I went for my usual walk down by the river the other morning. I had it in my mind to be on the lookout for a pair of bald eagels that winter near where I walk and that I have seen several times in the last week. During the initial part of my walk I was very aware that my mind was working overtime. My eyes were trained on the ground in front of me and I was repeatedly lost in thought. I actively tried to lift my eyes and just be in the moment of what I was seeing in front of me. I tried not to have thoughts about it, just see. But each time I brought myself out of preoccupation, it was a few tens of seconds before I sank back down into it.

As I neared the area where I was likely to see them, I redoubled my efforts, and I did see one of them in the distance, flying north, up the river, the same direction I was walking. A good sign, I must have thought. Good chance the bird will be sitting in a tree further up the line when I get there. I resolved to keep my head up and keep seeing.

The next thing I remember was a commotion in the tree right above me. Russeling, branch snapping. I looked up just in time to see an eagle plunging towards the river as he/she flew off into the distance. I had been as close as I have yet to get to one of these magnificent birds. But I was preoccupied and completely lost in thought. I pretty much missed the whole thing. It makes me wonder, how much beauty and wonder have I missed in my life by being preoccupied and failing to look up and just see?