It’s true and if you are a careful observer, you will know this for certain. Watch any animal in nature while being in nature yourself (without your cell phone or other tech distractions) and you will see their Zen-ness. We can find our own animal zen nature when out in the woods or even outside our back door (woods are better!). Here’s what I mean. Animals in nature are still and alert — this is exactly what we humans who seek to meditate and to be more Zen-like and peaceful aim for — stillness while remaining alert! And to be beyond our ego-personality daily stressful thinking. Just going outside achieves a disconnect from our own mental residue that bounces off the walls.
I have a one-bedroom apartment surrounded by many lunatic humans — sorry, but you could fact check this and if you lived here, you’d know the truth of that as well. And I also feed feral cats — kittens born just feet from my back door. (They are as big as an adult cat now.) I watch them and think how, in their wild animal nature, they possess what I strive for in my meditation practice: still alertness. They perk up at any sound that they’re not accustomed to and yet right afterward they are able to return to their former peaceful stillness again, totally letting it all go and being fully present.
Watch any animal in nature; take deer for example. They are always alert and attentive yet are able to return to a peaceful state rather quickly after they tense up or perk up due to a perceived threat. They are alert — not hyper-alert however.
I feel so trapped and smothered living here in this city and in an apartment complex sometimes. This is because even the outdoors here in this apartment complex can be chaotic with barking dogs and boisterous humans. Life. Its what we are, life itself. Rather difficult to merge with you have an aversion to, but it’s my current path here surrounded by human animals.
I am thinking soon to have a nice long hike in the woods. My trekking poles are always in my car and unfortunately, it’s necessary to drive 20 minutes to get to a state park. It’s not like when I lived in the mountains. But I can’t mentally “go there” today — makes me too sad. Anyway . . . I digress.
When we are out in nature (again, without the phones, etc.) it becomes so easy to let the trees, rocks, lakes and all of nature merge with our own energy. And then we can forget the human self and go once again into the animal self. We have to be aware when in a natural setting — snakes and the like, you know? Yet in the state park that I mentioned above, the greatest predators are humans and their dogs, not wild animals. Either way, one’s tendency in the wood is to be still and alert–or at least it’s that way for me. And that is very meditative.
Sometimes, I just want to dash out the door and get a bit of exercise when in between writing bursts or watercolor painting. Lately, I’ve stopped walking loops in this apartment complex (for numerous reasons not to be included here) and have chosen instead to take my walks along the highway on the bike lane. Now there is a place to be hyper-alert like in the woods! One must be in the present moment there too! Traffic is whizzing by 5 feet from my shoulder. I don’t walk on the highway every day and only for about 30 minutes all together out and back usually. It surely isn’t a pleasant walk in the woods, but there are dangers and the necessity to be alert and present.
I find I can be much more present in a group weight lifting class at the gym, but sometimes one just wants to walk out the door, not having the time or inclination to drive off to the gym or take 40 minutes to get to and from the state park.
Well, these are thoughts that crop up today. Being outside is expansive and meditative states are natural. Next time you watch a wild animal, see if it isn’t true — they are zen teachers!