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A Day at Muir Woods

Muir_woods_trail

I love coming to the Muir Woods National Monument. On a recent March weekend, it was very crowded, but it is always a bit crowded here because it is the epitome of nature’s beauty. Coming on a weekday morning is often the best time to avoid most of the crowds, but Muir Woods is never truly empty.

Why is that? Because there is something special about this park. Even if you’re used to cool temperatures, you’ll want to bring along a jacket because the temperature seems to always be in the mid-60’s. What I love about Muir Woods in March, however, is the fact that Spring is blooming wild and free within the forest. The new leaves are out. The stream seems to be running with an extra gusto right now.

It all encourages a state of mind that wants to actively meditate.

These stately redwoods that seem to touch the sky remind me of ancient visitors. They reach out to invite you to be with them no matter who you are. It is a cool, nurturing energy that surrounds you, welcomes you, and holds you as you explore underneath the canopy. Even in the silence of Muir Woods that you can find, there never really is silence. These ancient beings are speaking softly and quietly to encourage each visitor to be a little bit better today than they were yesterday.

The main trail at Muir Woods is a paved road, which means anyone of any age or ability can accept the invitation that has been offered. This trail might be busy much of the time, but there is a beauty in this hectic scene. There’s a mother pushing a stroller. There are couples who are holding hands, providing a warmth to each other in the chill of an early Spring day. There’s a daughter exploring Muir Woods from her wheelchair. There are several different languages that tickle the ear as they filter through the forest.

In many ways, the main trail of Muir Woods is a reflection of humanity. All should be welcome, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Your invitation is waiting. “Come, join us,” the trees seem to say.

I accepted my invitation by sitting next to a running stream for a short break. A stone in the stream caught my eye and time seemed to stand still. I enjoyed being in this one, perfect moment for what seemed like a lifetime! Afterwards, I placed my hand on one of the trees, these ancient beings standing tall, and could feel its breath match my own.

Muir Woods is filled with many amazing beings. We breathe out and they breathe in. It is a symbiosis that brings life to each of us, intertwining us together throughout all of space and time. I chanted a mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum or the “jewel is within the lotus.” It means happiness and joy are within. It became my meditation as I walked amongst these ancient beings, feeling their happiness and joy merge with my own.

A quick visit to the gift shop brought my journey this day to a close. A magnet to remember this perfect moment, a pen to help me write down future memories of perfect moments, and a couple bookmarks to recall my experiences within Muir Woods.

Goals and unattachment

I really like Dr. Chopra’s answer to this person’s question about setting goals.

Question:

You say that we should concentrate on our present actions and not get emotionally attached to the result. Then how should we plan our future? When we set our goals, we’re generally expecting things to turn out it a certain manner. Isn’t it how we plan our lives? How do we detach ourselves from the outcome and yet find the strength and motivation to take action towards our goal?

Answer:

Setting goals is fine for giving a direction for your life, but when you get emotionally attached to the outcome, then you are identifying yourself and your well being to something external to you and something you ultimately have no control over. That is a recipe for unhappiness. The Gita says: You have control over action alone, never over the results of action, therefore don’t live for the fruits of your actions, but don’t become inactive either.

Don’t worry about trying to detach from your goals, just consciously remind yourself that you are not your thoughts, actions or desires. Let your meditation practice inform you of what your true self is. The necessary motivation and persistence for your actions will flow from your inner sense of dharma—a knowingness that you are following your appropriate path of life.

Love,

Deepak

How parents can develop their child’s spiritual side

One of the findings that surprised the researchers is that spirituality — having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life, as well as a connection to something larger than your personal experience — has a big influence on children’s happiness.

“In our other studies, we have shown that family income and the marital status of parents accounts for less than one per cent of children’s happiness,” says Mark Holder, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of a recent study on spirituality in children.

Read more to find out how you can boost your child’s sprituality.