THE BEAUTY OF A MOMENT
After a 10 hour ride from Dar es Salaam, we had finally arrived to Mikumi National Park in time for one quick game drive before the sun went down. I was sitting in the back of a Jeep next to a girl I had met only that morning. It had been a long day, but we were content to have finally arrived at our destination and excited to be in such a beautiful place. On our first game drive of the safari, we were delighted to see zebras, elephants, wildebeests, giraffes, hippos, and even a leopard! (A shadow in a tree that could possibly be a leopard counts, right?) Satisfied, we decided to call it a day and drive back to freshen up for dinner. While on our way back, I happened to turn my head and look behind us.
To the right of the road, was a dazzle of zebras (obviously a dazzle) standing still, together in complete silence. The sun was setting behind them, only adding to the beauty of this scene. I had never seen anything more beautiful. I tapped the girl next to me on the shoulder. As she turned around, she couldn’t hold back a huge smile. Her eyes matched mine in delight and she just silently mouthed the word, “Wow.” I was gitty inside with a smile on my face as well. Our driver then turned off the vehicle and all three of us just sat there in silence with these beautiful animals, feeling the electric energy connecting all of us until the sun went down.
It was one of those moments in your life that is so vivid, you will never forget the snapshot that flashes in your mind when you think back to it anytime in the future.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”
– Sharon Salzberg
THE POWER OF NOW
Had I not looked back at that exact second, I may have never witnessed this scene of amazing beauty. And to think everyday of all of the moments like these that we miss, as we walk along blinded by the thoughts in our own heads or distracted by our phones.
As long as our brains are functioning, thoughts will come and go. This is part of being human. No Matter how much we meditate, we will never be able to prevent thoughts from entering our brains. Even as I was mindfully trying to stay present in the moment I described above, thoughts were filling my brain. One thought entered and said, “Wow Jill, I wonder how many moments like this you have been surrounded by but failed to see.”
The present moment
This experience triggered a memory I had from a few years prior. I was working in the Lake of the Ozarks for a few days and staying in a cheap motel which overlooked the lake. I decided to wake up early to watch the sunrise. At 5:00 AM, I walked outside and saw the most amazing colors filling the sky and reflecting over the water. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had seen to date. There is something about a new day starting and the intimacy of witnessing it while others are still sleeping.
As I sat there taking it all in, a man and a woman staying a few rooms down from me, opened their door and stepped outside. They were screaming at each other about something like which one of them was going to pack up the car so they could start the drive home. This went on for about 10 or 15 minutes and I just sat there in silence next to them. I couldn’t help but wonder if they turned around to see how beautiful the scene was behind them at that very moment, would it make them forget that they were fighting in the first place? Or even care about what they were fighting about?
Regardless, they continued to scream at each other until the sun was all the way up and never turned around to even know how magical the start of that new day had been. It was now over and actually made me a little sad for them that in the same moment, I was sitting there witnessing something so beautiful and they would never get to experience it.
“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.”
– Eckhart Tolle
HOW TO BE MORE MINDFUL AND INCREASE HAPPINESS
Nature is unlike anything else. It has the power to remind us that there is something greater than us surrounding us. As humans, we tend to think the world revolves around us. We walk around and think thoughts fueled by our egos such as, “How could they do that to ME? Don’t they know how unfair that is to ME?” But is this really important? When we have a choice to let these types of thoughts go or hold on to them, why do we hold on to them? Does it make our lives more joyful? Thoughts may protect us and teach us, but when they consume us, we fail to see the beauty in our lives. There is beauty all around us and nature is always there to remind us of that, serving as an excellent opportunity to bring us out of our heads each time we recognize that.
Appreciating the beauty around you is a form of meditation that helps you stay present. When you are present, you not only fill your life with more beautiful moments, you are also more aware of the thoughts that enter your head. This can help you stay calm when emotions arise inside of you or help you make decisions when under pressure. This is not just some hippie new age talk, there are so many benefits of mindfulness that can significantly improve your life.
Anything that reminds you that there is beauty around us and that our problems may not even exist next year or even next week, s wonderful. I know for certain that filling my life with more of these moments will do nothing but make my life more enjoyable. And if more of us did, wouldn’t we all live happier lives? I think back to this sunset and that moment to remind myself to slow down and see the bigger picture. I challenge you to look for something beautiful today and spend a few moments enjoying it. Who knows, maybe one day, in the midst of an argument, it may help remind you to slow down, turn around, see the sunrise, and if nothing else, help me fell less selfish for enjoying it alone.
MIKUMI national park info
- A7, Tanzania; Morogoro
- Pickup/Dropoff from Dar es Salaam
- 3D2N Packages starting from $400 USD
- Compare rates and packages at BookAllSafaris.com
- Contact: email@example.com