Summer is a time of abundance and energy. With more sunshine and longer days, this season is invigorating to our senses. Sunlight exposes vibrant blossoms and translucent canopies of leaves. A walk of any length can be an experience of unity with nature. When we are present with each step, joy and appreciation rise to the surface of our consciousness.
In this observant state, we are free to enjoy the intricacies of our surroundings: the joyful yellow of daisies that spot the lawn, the sweet distinctive smell of blooming roses, warm stones and pavement, steeped in sunshine.
Consider all the different types of flowers that grow in the summer: begonia, Bird of Paradise, Daisies, Geranium, Gladiolus, Hibiscus, Lily, Jasmine, Dahlia, Calla Lily, Gardenia, Freesia, Hydrangea, Roses, Lavender, Impatiens, Petunia, Marigolds and many more.
Nature gives us much to savor.
Slow down to enjoy these blossoms as they unfold around you, exposing new shades, shapes and fragrances. Whether hiking, walking to work or sitting in the backyard, dedicate a few moments each day to appreciating the beauty of this season.
When we see a blooming flower, it never fails to lift our spirit. Flowers are a universal expression of love and appreciation of others, both in celebration and memorials. Yet, a flower withers shortly after it blooms. This is a profound reminder of the impermanence of all life.
Looking deeply into the flower, we are reminded that change occurs in each moment, within us and around us. We grow, the weather turns, the flower withers, but we are still ourselves in essence, the sky is still the sky and the flower remains a flower, long after its blossom fades.
Understanding the impermanence of life, we transcend ideas of existence and non-existence, same and different. We realize our connection to the people and things around us; we do not feel alienated or separated from the world. In this awareness, we are empowered to live consciously and compassionately.
Every moment is an opportunity. Due to life's impermanent nature, everything is possible! Even when circumstances seem too difficult, we can be the lotus flower, reaching through murky waters towards the sunshine.
In the Buddhist tradition, the lotus flower represents the true nature of beings. We rise into the peace and clarity of enlightenment, blooming with vibrant beauty. Understanding that current obstacles will cease to exist, we are energized to keep reaching. Within the mud, we savor the sunshine, which streams through darkness.
Thich Nhat Hanh explains that "most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower grow. There cannot be a lotus flower without the mud."
In a modern society of instant gratification, where happiness is the only widely accepted emotion, we learn to avoid looking at our immediate surroundings in full. We often choose to immerse ourselves in playlists, television shows and food, which we believe will keep us on an even emotional keel.
But happiness is not born of avoidance and overindulgence. We can find peace in each moment by returning to the here and now. We find joy by appreciating the beauty that surrounds us.
Being with a flower mindfully is a deep meditation:
Breathing in, I am grateful for the beauty and fragrance of this flower.
Breathing out, I treasure the flower and my life here and now.
Follow Lilian Cheung, D.Sc., R.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SAVOR_the_book