My mind has been busy bubbling this morning. An infinite running to do list, cross-referencing and self-editing and rearranging as if a live document being edited by a team of contributors with their many minded agendas. The dance has the enlivening quality of aerial somersaults, swiftly swinging from idea to idea with acrobatic artistry, as well as the tiresome quality of compulsive dashing about.
This is one of those moments for mindfulness. I choose to press pause for 10 minutes. I promise to come back to whatever remains true after my mini retreat.
I sit on the feet of a bald cypress. Beautiful bald cypress, with it’s ginger-blonde bark, shaggy in soft shreds, its heavy-set bottom and spindly arms. I settle my butt into the padded ground and press through my back to meet living wood, and I turn inward. Things settle. Get quiet. I drift along the stream of my experience, in and out of the lovely weeds of thoughts and emotions. I slip my limbs from their compelling compressions again and again, and continue to drift back and forth between their grip and their company.
The weeds become more grippy. I find myself following whole storylines, jumping aboard 10-car trains of thought, and wrinkling my nose at the rising annoyance sizzling on the train tracks each time I catch myself and jump back down to the ground. To my back. To the shredded bark.
A rattling overhead filters into my awareness. Softly at first, then crisply the sound comes into focus. What IS that? I look up and see nothing but the spindly ginger arms of the bald cypress, feathery drooping boughs of bright green, and patches of sky between. The rapid battery of sound continues, and I crane my neck straight up and see — directly above my head — a squirrel. A particularly ruffled squirrel, swinging his tail in wide lasso sweeps of agitation, brown nose and splayed whiskers vibrating with his furious chatter at the woman below. CH CH CH CH CH CH!!
Wow!, I exclaim, How wonderful! How adorable! What a treat! I am delighted by this silly squirrel who has chosen to come so close with such animation. My face lightens and opens, my eyes sparkle, my mouth smiles in welcome curiosity.
And I wonder:
What would it be like to welcome my OWN chatter with such openness and delight? Can I greet the chatter of my monkey mind with the same light-hearted reverence that I hold for this spirited squirrel?
Two common responses to mental chatter are:
Squirrel chatter inspires the opposite in me: instead of criticizing the chatter, I am honored by the preciousness of the chatterer. And instead of identifying with the chatter, I am endeared by the innocent commotion as part of my experience but not part of me. Instead of agitation I feel gratitude for the appearance of this furry messenger, who I hold with a warm but open hand as a passing visitor.
Sasha Wright, LCSW
I provide psychotherapy in the Bay Area. My holistic orientation embraces the body, mind, and spirit as intertwined aspects of being. My work focuses on seeking resilience and weaving sustainably vibrant lives, and is infused by my own practices in dance, mindfulness, creative arts, earth based spirituality, and spending time in nature. I write to share ideas, inspire embodiment, and support wellbeing. Enjoy!
Sasha Wright is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW #70802) providing therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sees clients in Berkeley & Oakland.