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in the world

What Are You Called To Do Today?

How’s Your To-Do List Today?

Mine is jam-packed (bet yours is too) and everything feels urgent. The tasks crowding the top of my list are mostly things I’d rather not be doing and set against a backdrop of expectations and consequences for not getting them done. Which just adds to the sense of crisis and urgency.

Putting aside urgency for a moment, it can be useful to take a few minutes to pause for a bit and take stock.

You might notice feelings of agitation at the thought of having to do these things.

That sense of agitation probably comes from thoughts about these things that need doing. Often, tasks aren’t really that bad, it’s our thinking that can make us feel really antsy.

So. Imagine letting go of thinking about your To-Do list right now. You might feel some of that tension drain away immediately. They’re just actions that need doing. There’s still a slight sense of agitation, perhaps, but once the thinking is stripped away and you’re left with the tasks themselves, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Inside / Outside

One thing that stands out about most To-Do lists is the ‘outside’ nature of them. How so many tasks are generated by external needs–from other people, or from circumstances outside of ourselves that need fixing. It’s like your list is pulling you out from yourself.

When you move your focus from things that need doing ‘out there’ and look inside, sometimes a new list shows up.

By ‘look inside’ I mean shifting awareness out from your head and all the thoughts swimming inside it and allowing awareness to settle into your body. To be conscious of the physical sensations in your body. To feel your feet on the floor, the temperature in the room and how it feels on your skin, the movement of your chest as it breathes in and out. Then, moving deeper in, being aware what’s going on in your chest, your heart center.

There might be a slight sense of unease there, we have been talking about To-Do lists after all!

Maybe you’re feeling calmer than when you started reading, more present.

Whatever is going on for you now, going deeper you’re likely to find there’s something more underneath these sensations if you’re willing to check.

Something inside of you that wants to be heard. A desire for actions that come from a deeper place and that are infused with a sense of ease. Actions that come more from this place, inside, rather than from the outside. Actions that are both restful and productive. Tasks that are generated from a sense of purpose and are more closely aligned with who you are, and what you want to accomplish.

What might those tasks be? What are you called to do today?


Forest Bathing: Shinrin-yoku translates as "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing".
in the world

Forest Bathing – Shinrin-Yoku

“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

The term Shinrin-yoku sounds ancient and mystical, as if it was handed down from a mountain monastery by a wizened Zen monk before he turned and disappeared back into the mists, never to be seen again.

In fact, Shinrin-yoku translates as “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” and describes a program developed in Japan in the early 80’s by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

It seems funny that such a sensitive and healing practice could spring out of a beaurocratic body with a name like ‘The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’, but forest bathing is inspired by Shinto and Buddhist practices and comes at a time when the need to be reimagining our relationship with forests, with all of nature, is hitting a crisis point.

Mindfulness and Nature

Humans have lived in close communion with forests for all of our existence. We’re wired to be affected by, and respond to, our natural environment. For so many of us living in urban environments, it’s common to feel that pull towards wilderness in whatever form resonates for us, whether that’s hiking in the forest, climbing mountains, or the gazing out at the ocean. We all know that spending time outside in nature can have a rejuvenating effect on us.

What makes forest bathing more than just ‘being outdoors’, however, is that participants are encouraged to engage with and explore this natural environment consciously, using their senses. So there’s the experience of being outdoors combined with the element of mindful engagement.

There are certified Shinrin-yoku guides who are trained in leading groups in the forest bathing experience. Their job is to guide the group safely and assist them in opening themselves up to the forest through a loose sequence of activities.

Some of the activities include mindful breathing, smelling, listening, and other exercises that encourage interaction with the environment through the sensing body.

Here is a description of a beautiful invitation called ‘shared breath’

With the help of the guides participants get to experience themselves in relationship with the surrounding forest, to feel immersed in the experience, to allow the boundaries of the self to soften a little and let the forest in.

In this way there is a sharing of energy, as the forest is allowed to influence you and nourish the forest bathers.

The guides sometimes lead the group in an activity called ‘The Way of Council’– small meetings where the group is given a forum to support each other in reflecting on their shared experience.

Benefits Of Forest Bathing

Some of the benefits of forest bathing include: lower blood pressure, a reduction in stress, more energy and improved sleep. People who have tried the experience often report feeling a closer, and deeper, connection to nature and themselves. And a lot of people have tried it, with over 2.5 million people in Japan walking forest therapy trails in Japan every year. Yes, they have have spent millions setting up dedicated trails throughout Japan.

It makes sense that Japan would be leading the way with forest bathing, and the extensive research they are doing into the effects of the experience. Japan is highly urbanized and city life is chaotic and draining on the people who live there. One area of the research focuses on the effects of “aromatic volatile substances’, the oils exuded by trees that are breathed in as people walk through the forest. These substances are proving to have profound effects on people’s brains and bodies.

And while the chemical properties of forests might be rejuvenating and contribute great health benefits, my instinct is that the opening up of yourself to the forest, that process of allowing the outside world to come in and affect you, is where the deep healing comes in, as people reconnect to the old ways of being in right relationship to the world that holds us.


forest bathing shrine-yoku mindfulness

longing and belonging welcome presence
in the world


Sentience is not an attribute of a body in isolation: it emerges from the ongoing encounter between our flesh and the forest of rhythms in which it finds itself, born of the interplay and tension between the world’s wild hunger and our own.

David Abram

What do you long for? What does your body long for? Are these two different things?

There’s something striking about the shape-shifting nature of desire, and how what we think we desire sometimes turns out to be not so.

A friend described this once as “cravings masquerading as desire”.

The word ‘crave’ has a more grasping quality to it, and seems to hint more at what we think we might want, whereas actual desire seems to come from a deeper place. Another way of saying that might be: craving is what our mind says we want, while desire is what our body says we want

The word ‘crave’ also seems to imply a movement inwards, a curling up in defense against the world. I get the image of a prisoner huddled over their gruel, with one hand spooning the food in and the other curled around the bowl to make sure nobody gets at it.

Desires Stretching Us Out

I’ve also been thinking about another term we use for desire: ‘longing’, and how it has an alternate physical sense to it, that of lengthening, and how our physical response to desire is to reach out to what we long for, almost like a stretch, lengthening our selves in order to get what we want.

The idea of our desires stretching us out–changing our shape–highlights a different gift our desires give us. That of drawing us out of the mental world we construct for ourselves and into a more real world, one that calls us to engage with it and connect.

And as our desires urge us to reach and lengthen, we become more spacious and less closed in, more awake and responsive to the world around us. We touch the world and allow the world to touch us. Maybe the longing that draws us out is also a key element of our aliveness, and necessary for us to feel the fact of our belonging to the world.

Sitting here in my office chair (I’m noticing how I’m all bent at the middle) tapping away on my keyboard, it’s easy to focus on my own smaller wants and forget that I am a being made for interacting in a world with it’s own wild hungers.

Your desires are what call you back to the wild and hungry world that wants your body to interact with it. Asking you to take part in the push and pull of self and world, as we all trade longings in order to stretch and shape each other.

stay present in tough times
in the world

You Can Stay Present When Things Get Tough

Steam rising from your morning cup of tea, birdsong in the garden, the soft warmth of a blanket thrown over your legs, a small child offering you a smile. Being present often means opening up to the beautiful things in life.

Other times, life presents tougher vistas to take in: sickness, emotional or physical pain, financial woes, getting caught in a storm, a tough crowd bearing down on you.

It’s important to take beauty and goodness in when that’s available. It nourishes and gives us strength. When life throws difficulties our way, it can seem like that’s not such a great time to be practicing presence. It can seem like a good time to be practicing not-presence.

And often, not-presence is what we go for: a click of the remote, a swipe of the phone, a rummage through the fridge, and we find something cool and delicious to distract us. But when we take this route we miss out on something.

Aligning With Truth

Being present means aligning ourselves with our truth, at least as best as we can. That doesn’t always feel so good in the moment. It’s certainly harder to see the beauty in moments when things go awry. But the beauty is there, just as much there as when everything is soft and inspiring.

Think about a time when you’ve suffered. Whether your suffering arrived through personal choices, through the actions of others, or from uncontrollable external forces, it doesn’t really matter. Think about this past version of you moving through that time, bringing all your resources to bear on a situation that may have seemed out of control. You may not have had the resources you have today, but you managed to find a way through.

When we look back on these times in our lives, we can often see the strength and beauty and courage that we were able to come up with in response to difficult circumstances. Even though we might not have seen it at the time, the beauty was always there.

Milk Crates And Scarves

I used to be a member of a Playback Theatre company. In Playback there are four actors, a musician, and a conductor. The actors each sit on a milk crate on stage as the conductor creates conversations with the audience and gets individual members up to tell stories from their lives. The audience member then assigns roles from their story to each of the four actors who then stand up and improvise a performance of that story, using only their milk crates and a few colored scarves as props.

Being a part of this group was such a life changing experience. Time after time we would see people get up and tell their stories. They were often tales of loss and adversity, of moving through great difficulties on the way to personal growth. As people told their story they often felt vulnerable, a little shy, and the conductor would help ease them through the telling of their story and sit with them as the actors played out these scenes.

Something magical was born from act of telling their story in front of a group of strangers and then watching the episode from their life played out in front of them.

Almost everyone I saw who watched their own story played out for them felt uplifted and inspired by their own journey, they all saw something in themselves that they had not seen so clearly or easily before. They saw their own strength and hope and inner resourcefulness played out in front of them, in a way that would have been difficult to access as they were caught up in the actual living out of their stories.

There’s beauty to be found in even the most difficult of times. It can just be very difficult to see that while events are unfolding. And maybe that’s not even the time to be looking for that beauty, sometimes it’s all we can do to apply ourselves to getting through our times of struggle.

The Eye Of The Storm

I’ve been writing this post for a few weeks now. A little here, a little there. Knowing there was something I wanted to say but not quite able to get there.

Then I came across this, from Matt Licata:

“In this moment, which is the only moment that is ever here, you can give yourself the gift of primordial rest. For this is the greatest act of self-love. Lay your hand on your heart. Replace the urgency of becoming with a moment of pure being. Create an inner temple in which your emotions, your sensations, and the longings of your heart can be held in sanctuary and provided safe passage.”

Those few short sentences, cover so much of what I wanted to say in this post. That even in the most difficult of times we can give ourselves the gift of presence. If we can stay present for just a moment in tough times we can access self love, sanctuary, and our desire for safe passage. And what makes this do-able is that it only requires a moment from us, “the only moment that is ever here” as Matt says.

It’s always possible to claim the smallest moments, here and there, for ourselves. We can touch base, be present for ourselves, acknowledge where we are as a way of re-orienting ourselves. The qualities that we usually discover only in hindsight are there, playing out in our story in this very moment, and accessible to us. All we need to do is to give ourselves that single moment to touch base, to rest in the eye of the storm, to become the eye of the storm.

in the world

What Does It Mean To Be Present?

How present are you in your own life?

Are you present to the world around you? How about the people around you? How present are you to your acquaintances, to your loved ones, to yourself?

We’re all capable of being present, at least some of the time.

Even before I started working at this stuff in a serious way, I was often able to be present when I needed to. But sometimes, even these days, I find myself drifting off or forgetting that I’m here.

Presence oscillates. Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it fades a little. I don’t even think we’re built to be present 100% of the time.

But to be present just a little more? We all have room for that. Actually, once you get into the habit of trying to be more present you’ll find your capacity is pretty great. To notice you’ve been absent and gently welcome yourself back is a nice start.

For me, being present means feeling grounded in your body. It means being receptive to the person, or people, in front of you. A big part of being present means being aware of what’s going on in your heart: do you feel tender right now? a little closed off? what are you noticing in there?

We all want to feel more whole, more sane. We all want to feel that we belong. In moments of presence and quiet I start to believe we are all more whole, more sane than we think we are. I certainly believe we all belong.

A Matter Of Kindness

I used to think being present was a matter of trying hard, and wrestling with countless, urgent thoughts. And if you’re thinking that too, I want you to know–it’s not about that.

I used to think no matter how much I meditated, or tried to be mindful, that I was never doing enough. That I wasn’t devoted enough, or smart enough to ever get it. These days I’m so much kinder towards myself because I know that’s all untrue. It’s not true about me, and it’s not true about you either.

Sometimes it’s simply enough to hear birdsong outside your window and remember, “Oh, it’s Spring.”

What does being present mean to you?

world in all its brilliance
in the world

The World In All Its Brilliance

In Paris I went to neither the art academy nor to the professors. The city itself was my teacher, in all things, in every minute of the day. The market folk, the waiters, the hotel porters, the farmers, the workers. They were enveloped in something of that astounding atmosphere of enlightened freedom that I had never come across anywhere else.

Marc Chagall

Do you ever have moments where the veil falls away and the world presents itself fresh and new?

My wife and I spent a morning running errands recently and pulled up at a stoplight outside a cafe. A woman on a bicycle was propped beside our car waiting for the light to change. A couple walked, arms linked, in front of the stopped traffic. In the cafe every table was occupied, at least those visible from the street, and on each table there was at least one laptop open. One man looked through the window, checking out the woman on the bike.

I was struck by how particular this scene was to this moment, to this corner of the city, to the people present, and the activities they were doing. It was a grey Seattle day which threw a soft light over everything, and beneath the bustle of activity everyone seemed relaxed. Things moved in slow motion.

That moment will never be repeated exactly again.

Well it’s Seattle, so the clouds will probably be repeated. Never in that exact same way, though.

The woman on the bike will never lean in just that way, in just that spot, watched by just those eyes as she waits for the light to change. The relationship between the couple crossing the road will never be quite the same again. Tomorrow it may be deeper, or fonder, more fraught, or finished. The man looking out the window might never see the woman bike-rider again. Or he may see her tomorrow, run down the road and ask her out.

The light changed and we drove off. The moment of seeing, of really seeing that little scene, dropped away and a veil slipped back over the world.

I don’t remember much at all of the rest of the trip. I was caught up in thoughts, or conversation for most of it. We probably stopped at a few more lights at which nothing really caught my eye, and soon enough we were home again.

But that small moment outside the cafe stays with me. It was just a plain moment, but bright in its plainness.

I read recently that when visitors came to Chagall’s studio they had to wait for him to throw on a pair of pants, because he painted naked. That nakedness shines through in his paintings, too.

I love this gesture of casting away what stood between him and his canvas.

Brief moments where I see the world clearly make me realise how muffled my view usually is. It makes me wonder if sometimes I walk around like a guy wearing a pair of pants over my head.

I’m not sure we’re even built to see the world in all its brilliance all the time. I’m sure we gather that mental clothing around us in self-protection, but I’m also pretty sure I go through life a little overdressed.

One payoff from building your capacity to notice, to be present, is that the discipline in showing up regularly in this way ensures you’ll hit roadblocks and stop signs that occasionally strip away your mental clothing, forcing you to see things as they really are, if only for a brief moment, before the rush to cover back up again.

in the world

Finding Beauty Through Simplicity

Beauty surrounds us,
but usually we need to be walking
in a garden to know it.

My father was a landscape artist and he used to carry a small piece of cardboard with a rectangular section cut out which he used as a viewfinder. Looking through this simple tool helped him isolate different aspects of the same scene and settle on a composition for his paintings.

I carry one around in the folder of my sketch book, and when using it I notice how it de-clutters my field of vision and simplifies my choices.

There are many ways we can use the idea of a viewfinder to focus our attention.

Every time I’ve attended a silent meditation retreat, I always relish the feeling when that first bell rings, signaling the beginning of silence. It’s like having a frame of simplicity placed over my life for a few days.

That single change reduces the many social interaction choices we need to make during the day and ushers in a velvety cloak of silence. This has an immediate calming and focusing effect on me.

By taking away these choices it becomes so much easier for the mind and body to settle deeply.

The writing practice of noticing works in this way too. It limits your writing choices to one: record what is happening in the present moment. It takes something infinite and provides an access point that retains a sense of expansiveness, while reducing the sense of overwhelm.

This act of framing and simplifying makes it easier to give your full attention.

Once your attention is focused and intensified; beauty, and detail, and previously hidden patterns are revealed. Curiosity is fed, and you are open to the vibrancy of everything around you.

This might be where we get that idea of attention as a form of love. When you think of the word ‘attention’ in this way, other words may float up; like ‘attending’, ’tending’, and ‘tenderness’.

As Rumi points out, when we find ourselves walking through a garden, we have our own cultural frames that guide us in how to experience that garden so we can receive it fully. Beauty is all around us but a garden acts like a frame, so when you visit a garden all your senses become attuned towards beauty, and you can’t help but find it.

Great focus and attention is required in the creation of a garden. It’s there in the act of envisioning the garden, the deliberate care given as each plant is put in the ground and nurtured along, the thoughtful placement of each element with an eye to how future visitors will experience the garden.

These all require shifting viewpoints that bring simplicity. The results of these choices then come together, like a mosaic, to bring forth an experience of beauty for us as we arrive to experience the garden.

Are there activities in your life that you frame with simplicity? that inspire attentiveness, tenderness and focus? Leave a comment, let me know.

tides of desire
in the world

Following The Tides Of Desire

“Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it.”

Reggie Ray

Sometimes you can be sitting there and not even notice it happen. The slow creep of water up the beach, the wavering line of wet sand making it’s way up to where you’ve left your things. Next thing you know, the water is lapping at your towel. It’s the tide, and it’s moving in silently.

Despite the quietness, the tide is a powerful event generated by mysterious forces. The moon moves in relationship to the earth and between these two shifting bodies the power of gravity is at work: the earth holds the moon in it’s orbit, and in return the moon exerts it’s own pull, lifting and releasing great bodies of water as it cycles the earth.

Our desires are like this

Once we are locked in to something we desire, the space between us and our desire becomes charged and energy flows. And that’s part of the thrill of desire, the energetic pull we experience in our minds and our bodies. It’s the thrill of aliveness, awake and running through us.

Desires are a powerful force in our life and if we are not conscious in our relationship with our desires they have the power to overwhelm us.

It’s no accident that one of the first questions a life coach is taught to ask of their clients is “What do you want?” Because our thoughts of desire and our bodily experience of desire can be so strong and have such a quality of urgency, we can be pushed to our capacity simply managing them. So it makes sense that we don’t always get to sit down and examine what’s going on.

How often do you consciously think about the desires that move you? How much thought do you give to following the pull of your desires, the field of energy that moves between you and the thing or person or state of being that you are desiring?

Have you ever chased a desire and got burned for it? Followed through on something you thought you wanted, and lost control along the way? I know I have. We might realize afterwards that our energy was spent chasing something we didn’t want so badly after all. We may have chased relationships with people when what we really desired was to be accepted, wanted, loved. May have chased alcohol or drugs when what we really desired was confidence, excitement, or to be comfortable in our own skin. The same with food, or activities, or choosing a place to live.

The desire under the desire

Sometimes the things we really desire are hidden underneath, like deep water moving underneath the surface. The movement of the water below creates visible waves of movement on the surface, and makes it’s mark on the shore. But the actual movement of water underneath can be hard to see. And sitting with all that energy might be a little unnerving sometimes, too.

Diving underneath our apparent desires to find out what’s going on can be helpful because:

Sometimes our desires are misdirected.

Sometimes our desires are overwhelming

Sometimes our desires are trying to tell us something.

Here is a simple exercise that can help get started looking at the nature of our desires and to taste some of that energy that is running through.

A conversation with desire

Doing this exercise can help you check in and, in a very light way, experience the energy of your desire.

The first step is to get something that you consider a treat–your first cup of coffee in the morning, or a beloved pastry, maybe cue up a piece of music that moves you deeply. You can also call up an image of something (or someone) you desire if what you want isn’t at hand.

Next, ground yourself. You need to be aware of your body to do this exercise, so sit comfortably in a chair, or on the floor, if you want to be standing that’s okay too, and direct your attention into the places in your body that are holding you up.

If you are standing that would be your feet, feel where they connect to the floor, experience the pull of gravity on your body. If you are sitting down you might place your attention into your feet on the floor, the buttocks where they rest on the chair. Just feel that for a moment before we move to the next step.

Next, put the treat in front of you. Observe it. Notice what responses come up for you. What thoughts are coming up for you? What do you experience in your body as you observe this treat?

If you are having trouble noticing anything go back and ground yourself again, put your attention back into your feet, your buttocks, sometimes putting a hand in the center of your chest can ground you in your body a little more and help you to access more information. If nothing comes up, then nothing comes up. That’s perfectly okay. That’s information too. There’s no way of doing this wrong.

The next step is to slowly reach towards the treat, but don’t touch it. Use your body for this step, reach out with an arm, even if you’re working with an image you’ve chosen. Again, as you reach out notice what is happening in your body? What thoughts are coming up? Pull your arm back slowly without picking up or touching the treat. What do you notice here?

Okay. We can’t end on a cruel note here.

The final step is to reach out slowly again, this time allow yourself to have the treat. Smell the coffee and have a sip, break into that pastry, imagine yourself with that special person. Notice the thoughts that come up, notice what your body is experiencing right now.

Riding the tides

The exercise we’ve just gone through is a simple one, but it’s a nice way to start leaning into our desires, to help us get a feel for what’s going on underneath the surface as the tides of desire run through us–through our body, through our consciousness.

As you do this exercise you might surprised at what comes up. Sometimes the strength of the desire takes is more than you anticipate, sometimes the final step proves underwhelming and you might wonder why you were so excited to have that thing.

More important than the actual results of doing this exercise, is the power of taking the time to come home to the body and really experience the push and pull as our desires play out. To get a feel for that and to see what’s really going on in there, to get into the habit of having conversations with your desires.

It can begin a fruitful practice of getting to know your desires and appreciate the thill and sense of aliveness they bring to you, while learning how to avoid getting pulled under by them.

in the world

The Murmuration In You

The video at the bottom of this post has well over 25 million visits.

It shows a close up view of a murmuration, an immense flock of starlings rippling through the sky in a series of complex swoops and turns.

Murmurations usually occur just before dusk sets in, and the shadowy movements of the starlings look striking against the dark sky. While the sight of a murmuration is impressive, the word itself comes  from the sounds made by the birds.

The Old Latin root for murmuration means: ‘humming, muttering, roaring, rustling’–and in Old Greek: “to roar, to boil”. (How great is the word–‘boil’? It really captures that rolling sense of movement.)

Watching the video, where the sounds are mostly blocked out by overlaid music, you get a sense of what it must be like to be close to the bustling and swooping movements of the birds, how thick the air is with their sound.

An elegant response

The movement of the starlings is an elegant group response to either a danger, say a peregrine falcon, or an opportunity, like a food source.

The patterns of flight emerge from each bird’s reaction to its neighbors.

If one bird sees a predator and shifts away, or another sees a food source and shifts towards it, that movement influences the whole flock.

While a murmuration is hauntingly beautiful there’s a sense of brute physicality to it as well.

One lone bird confronted by a falcon would also shift away, but when that movement is mirrored by thousands of other starlings it must be daunting to the predator, as this great shadowy beast rears up and away in the sky.

What are we responding to?

We’ve all seen variations on this movement before in schools of baitfish, blood cells under a microscope, the swirl of galaxies.

Something about those repeated patterns of motion strike a chord with us, and we find them mesmerizing. Maybe we see our own communal movements echoed in the flocking of starlings.
People are social animals, our range of responses may have more complexity but the similarities are there.

This is echoed in the complex movements of traffic through a city at peak hour, guests at a wedding shifting this way and that, an audience at a concert responding to the performers and the people around them, maybe the best human example is the way we interact on the internet.

The Murmuration In You

As well as the interactions we have outside of ourselves, there is also a rich unfolding taking place within us as sensations, emotions, and thoughts weave together, mingling, influencing each other as they meet.

These inner swirlings can be hard to perceive, occurring at the edge of our own dusky subconscious. And we have to settle in and really pay attention to recognize them. I think one reason murmurations are so compelling is that they mirror the unfolding movements of our inner life. We see a deep and hidden aspect of ourselves mirrored against the sky.

The Murmuration Exercise

When I run medium sized workshops I have a favorite exercise I often include that brings the participants together and, with a few simple rules,  mimics a murmuration.

It’s great fun and people are always fascinated by the experience of being inside a living system as it twists and turns through the room in seemingly random movements.

And when we do the murmuration exercise in a workshop and allow our own bodies to be moved in these patterns, we get to experience a small taste of something essential to the universe as it’s projected in us. We are making contact with the seeds of murmuration stirring in our own bodies. It never fails to generate intense discussions afterwards.

6 or 7 starlings

Each starling in a murmuration moves in response to 6 or 7 neighboring birds. These partners remain the same even though other birds may, at times, come closer to the individual bird. This ‘system’ is partly what allows the murmuration to create such elaborate movements and patterns.

Each bird instinctively attunes to to the birds around it, and through this becomes part of a larger ‘being’, a trade-off that gives the birds more safety and opportunity.

While people aren’t starlings, a murmuration is an interesting metaphor for looking at how we interact with the people around us. We certainly shape each others lives in some way as we interact with the people around us.

Thinking about the 6 or 7 people around me in any life situation–family, jobs I’ve worked in, friendship circles–is something I’ve been thinking about while writing this post. I can see how being part of any group influences my behavior as I try to balance my own needs to the needs of the group.

There are times when I’ve partially, or fully, switched out some of these half dozen relationships–through taking a new job, or moving, or entering new relationships–and each time I can clearly see the shifts that have occurred as a result.

So, here is the video. I’d love to see your comments on it: How does watching this video affect you? What did you feel in your body as you watched? Can you feel the movements mirrored in your own body?