Whenever I am home, I take Maisy, our pooch, for a walk over the Park. She loves it. We walk the same way every time. We get to the hill, I let her off the lead, she runs down, sniffing the same places and taking the exact same route. We then go to the river, she runs in it laughing and jumping. I wait for her, we walk back.
I am not present in this place. I am walking Maisy. My joy is watching her joy. It is her walk that I am facilitating for her. It is not my walk.
So today, I decided that I would go back to the park this afternoon on my own to explore the notion of presence and mantra.
To be present is to be deeply within the period of time happening now.
The first thing I did was enter the Park at the opposite end to usual to see it from a whole new perspective.
I then found a tree and sat underneath. I'm not sure why but I felt a bit embarrassed. No-one ever sits on the grass area, leave alone a middle aged woman singing mantra. Plus it was quite busy because it is the school holidays.
I decided it was not possible to be present in the now if I am frozen with embarrassment, and that actually, I had as much right to be sat under a tree singing mantra as the dog walkers racing around the path stretching the cricket field, as much right as the tennis players knocking their ball back and for in the tennis court and as much right as the novice canoeists navigating on the river.
I made sure I was sat and comfortable and then listened.
I could hear almost everyone that was in the park, all at the same time. In addition, I could hear leaves rustling, even though the distant trees appeared still. I could hear birds singing to each other and the river mumbling over the rocks on her journey.
I breathed in through my nose as deeply as I could and then sighed outwardly. I breathed in again and I noticed I could smell a new smell, someone's dinner cooking, a casserole or maybe lamb cawl.
I opened my eyes. The sky seemed more blue than I remembered before closing them, the clouds billowing, some white, some grey, undecided as to whether or not to drizzle.
I felt drawn to touch the earth. The mud and grass were slightly damp, like my skin after I have had a bath and towel dried, still holding the memory of the water that it had been soaked in.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a family in the distance with their children and their dog, now staring at me. How could I sniff the earth with them watching me? Their dog was intrigued, he came running over. They started shouting very loudly for him to come back to them, but he was more interested in the woman sat under the tree. He sniffed me. I smiled at him, he tipped me a wink like he understood, and ran back to his humans. The parents took hold of him and their children and pulled them away.
Alone again, I bent over and smelt the earth. At first, I could only smell the familiar aroma of grass, but as I breathed in more deeply, I could smell the very earth itself. Instantly the smell made me smile inside and out.
I sat upright, closed my eyes and sang an ancient mantra in Sanskrit known to hold space. I wanted to hold this space within and around me forever.
I noticed where my voice was coming from, which chakra it was passing through, how it felt in every orifice of my body. I imagined it entering the Universe from my body and where it's vibrations were reverberating.
I sang for myself and for women that I love whom need love and light just now. I imagined my mantra reaching from my heart into theirs'.
And when I had finished, I opened my eyes. I felt myself sighing out loud. The world seemed still.
As I got up to leave, I felt sure that when Maisy and I come here tomorrow, it will no longer be a dog walk, it will be our walk.