Chapter 2-5: Mindfulness

View from Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park

It was a breath-taking drive as the early morning sun's rays peaked over the mountaintops. At each hairpin turn valleys opened up rimmed by serrated mountain ridges and peaks. Waterfalls cascaded down steep mountain faces, and near Logan Pass a group of mountain goats stood high on narrow rocky ledges thousands of feet above the valley floor surveying their wild world. I was in heaven. Later that day I set up camp on the shore of Saint Mary Lake and would spend the next five days hiking and exploring the eastern ramparts of Glacier National Park

During this trip I discovered a sense of freedom travelling through the western states that pulls at me to this day. It’s hard to describe the feeling as towns slip away and the vastness of open roads framed by distance mountains that gradually sharpen into view as the miles pass by; roads that twist and turn over rugged mountains through pine covered forests and across sand baked desserts with only the wind and occasional animal for company. Contentment, present moment awareness as the miles speed by, where thoughts are banished and there are no worries of the future, ruminations about the past but only the beautiful spaciousness of the western skies.

Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is a present moment awareness of whatever is arising and passing away in our moment to moment awareness.
  • Mindfulness observes, without bias, without judgment. We are able to see what is happening without getting lost in the narrative around it.

Lake MacDonald, Glacier National Park

And safety, that was always a question thrown at me by friends and strangers. Wasn’t I scared to go off into the wild on my own? There is always some trepidation before any trip I embark on but once I have pulled away from my home and am travelling down either new highways or familiar old ones those fears fade into the background. Safety as Paul Gilbert states in the Compassionate Mind is related to one’s childhood. To the sense of safety that primarily our mothers and to a lesser degree our fathers impart to us. My parents provided me with stability, love, strength,  curiosity and courage to explore the world around me and I always felt safe.

By the time I returned to Saskatoon, a week later, a piece of my heart was tugging towards the Rocky Mountains and a dream emerging of a life for me somewhere in this vast landscape.