. E X P L O R E .
From Latin ‘ex-‘ (out) ‘-plorare‘ (utter a cry)
The humble roots of this word engages a sense of wonder, of amazement, of gasping and exclamation. To explore is to move into unfamiliar territory, and search without knowing what you will find. To examine what you see, hear, smell, touch; and to notice how you respond to these new experiences.
It is, in short, being curious about what we encounter, without judgment or attachment to a specific outcome. It is coming back to a child-like way of viewing the world; a perspective much more inclined towards true presence, joy, and discovery.
Sounds like a pretty fun way to experience the world, doesn’t it?
As an ‘adult’, however, exploring can become a challenging practice that takes a whole lot of dedication and self-awareness.
Even when we are alone, most of us inhabit an environment of multiple worlds. Each smartphone, tablet, and computer screen is a live portal to another unlimited dimension of information, in the form of images, videos, text, sound…they offer a version of exploration, but one engaging us only from the neck up.
Every moment we multitask, we are crowding our conscious mind to choose and prioritise: What is most important?
In the jungle of noise and choice, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To lose sight of your path. To feel your energy sapped away.
Which is why it’s so important to close your eyes, even for a moment or two, so you can pause, and come back to the landscape within.
For many of us, diving within may feel daunting, and to be avoided at all costs.
Yes, exploring our minds can be scary. Especially when we are surrounded by a cacophony of voices not our own; voices that shout for approval, judgment, improvement.
When we are busy choosing, prioritizing, or stressing about past occasions and future possibilities, our inner landscape tightens, becoming rougher and more constricted. Our gentle rivers stop flowing, and there are jagged cliffs instead of lush green hills. We are preparing our heart and nervous system for survival – to fight, freeze, or flee.
What can we do, when we feel trapped in the swirl of these voices, mixing and shaping your own thoughts?
This is when it’s most essential to remember that we are the makers of our inner landscape.
Even as we sit still, there is an ecosystem within our physical bodies that is constantly changing, and always in direct relationship to the state of our mind.
Any moment, we can choose to tune in to our breath. The gentle cycle of inhalation, followed by exhalation.
Listen for it, gently. Explore the textures, the rhythm, the physical sensation of transporting the air around you into your lungs, and the freshly oxygenated blood around your body, warming, transforming. Let your breath carry you around the terrain of your body…then release the breath, and release some of the tension along with it.
Then start again – new breath, new exploration, new landscape. What’s changing?
If we think we are in danger, there is no space to be curious.
If we come back within, as an explorer, and examine our inner terrain – without judgment or purpose, purely noticing – we will see that much of the time, there are no immediate threats.
Thank you, body, for looking out for danger, but right now… it’s actually all OK.
We are gifted with these bodies, to feel, to move, to experience. So be in the body, and explore with your senses. Release yourself, and let’s step out together, away from the cage of our own making.
Let’s start. With this breath, right now.