One of the things I’ve noticed since doing regular mindfulness practice is that the plants I encounter on my walks are pulled into the foreground rather being just sort of around, like visual white noise. (Hey, if sound can have a color, sights can have a sound.)

The maple trees have leafed out in the past couple of weeks. One of them stuns me every time I see it, if I really, really look at it.


First off, look at the overall shape. It’s so round! And although they don’t show well in the picture, there are airy spaces throughout the foliage that lighten the look of the tree and provide beautiful visual texture. And the color! Look at the contrast between the dark red and lighter red. Now look at the trunk. It has three divisions to it and they are beautifully shaped, like an up-ended tripod. Unfortunately, you can’t hear or see the rustling of the leaves. There was a light breeze when I took the picture.

This tree didn’t announce it’s splendor loudly like showy flowers do. (And I have nothing against showy flowers.) In the past, I may have just thought, “Nice tree” and kept walking. Certainly that not the end of the world, but I did enjoy the experience so much more when I took half a minute and most of my senses to “see” the tree better. I imagine that there are people, far more advanced in mindfulness meditation who could have been with that tree for a much much longer time. (And I tell you I am not yet ready to go on one of those mindfulness retreats where people go long periods of time without talking.)

If you would like to try a mindfulness exercise this week, here’s a common one. (Meaning, I did not invent it.) Go outside. You can sit or walk. Spend a few minutes noticing with all of your senses, look around, smell the air, listen to the sounds, and feel the way the ground feels beneath your feet and the air feels on your face. If you are lucky, you can also notice the way the sun feels on your face. When you are done, notice the way you feel and what you are thinking.

I am a beginner at mindfulness practices. But even as a beginner, the meditation and other mindful experiences have brought a great deal to my daily life. A street tree was revealed to be an extraordinarily beautiful living thing.