Being Present – Opening Your Senses to Nature – Picture to Ponder – v7-issue15

by Sheila Finkelstein on April 11, 2011

Long-time Picture to Ponder subscriber, Alison James, responded to last week’s issue with such a “right-on” observation, sharing her own experience, that I asked if I might feature her expressions in this issue.

path - photo by Alison James Photo by Alison James, Guest Writer/Photographer

She wrote: “I ride my bike every morning thru the same piece of Forest preserve/prairie. I try to make it a peaceful time, focusing on what my senses bring me – smell, sight, sound, feel – and not get wrapped up in thinking about work / home / future / past etc.

That sounds so simple, yet it is such a hard discipline to follow!

Still, I am gentle with myself and just bring back my thoughts to the here and now like stray sheep. When I do, I notice shadows striping the path – fungus on a tree – hear a bird trill in a certain way – the ever-changing colors and shapes of clouds – each tree a unique silhouette – the quality of the light and the air – sparkles or ripples on the river – a hawk on the wing – the shape of a fallen tree-trunk – beckoning green grass thru the trees – deer in the distance – etc.”

leaves photo by Alison James

“Every day has new things to offer as well as dear familiar ones. When I forget and get caught up inside my headI miss all these things!”

leaf in water - photo by Alison James

“I am there but not there. The bike ride is far less refreshing because mentally, I didn’t leave home….” (my bolding)

You can find out more about Alison and her art on her site, You’ll note there that she’s written several books. They are available in paperback or at an almost giveaway price for PDF downloads from Lulu. See Alison’s Books for story descriptions.

Thank you, Alison, for your contribution to us today.

Today’s Photos
These photographs, sent to me on my request, are also those of Alison James. She responded that she usually does not have her camera with her when she rides her bike (in Illinois) and she did have it one autumn day. Thus the photos above.

Self-Reflecting Queries
Simply following along with Alison’s expression, I invite you to spend some time the next few hours, few days, pausing occasionally to look around you.

Observe, “Am I, have I been caught inside my own head?” If so, what have you been/are you missing?

Alison points out that she rides her bike with all of her senses open – sight, sound, touch, smell. What are your varied senses telling you about where you are now?

She see new things every day, when she is open to it. What new will you see today?

As always, have fun, and please share in the comments below what comes up for you.

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