Every afternoon, because fortunately, we had good weather during the retreat, we went out into nature for a walking meditation. Anne had been teaching on Shiva and Sakti and suggested that as we walked, we focus on both the stillness (the essence of Siva) and the pulsation of life (Shakti). As I was walking, I happened upon this tree.

Walking by, I heard a staccato racket, so I stopped and looked to see the creator of this sound. What I first saw was a bird, totally still. Now I am not a birder,  so I don’t know what kind of bird it was. This bird looked like a robin, except twice as big. He stared at me, or so it seemed,  and did not move the entire time I stood there observing him, which was probably close to 10 minutes. As I meditated on his energy, the noise continued, but I realized it wasn’t coming from Shiva, as I came to think of him. I then noticed a small bird loudly pecking its way around the tree. It was moving quickly, pecking and pecking, like he was hungrily eating dinner. Metaphorically, it seemed like this second bird was offering me a lesson. In his rapid, audible pecking, he was like my thoughts when they are in overdrive. I’ll be thinking this thought then running around after another thought, none of which go anywhere. Seconds after making a connection between the bird’s activity and my own mindfulness, a group of beautiful dancing birds off in the distance captured my attention as they began their acrobatics, landing and flying off again and again in incredible synchronicity. They seemed like the delight of Shakti. I looked back at Shiva, quite sure all this ruckus would have “ruffled his feathers” by now, but no, he hadn’t moved at all. He was still and present. As I stood there, I let myself feel the dancing delight while anchored in the stillness, the ground of Being, which is always present. The larger bird never moved until I did because after I stepped away and looked back, he was gone. I humbly thanked each of these creatures for offering me guidance. Each took on the role of teacher, and I was and continue to feel grateful.

Shanti, Janice