You know how argumentative we humans can be when helpful suggestions are tossed at us? Some of us were practicing mindfulness years and years before we knew what it was. Good thing. We might have quite a memory deficit had we avoided this simple activity just because it is good for us. And we don’t have to give this one up just because we grow up!
Mindfulness is a simple meditation with proven mental and physical benefits that you can do without being a mysterious monk on a mountaintop. To merit the mindful label, a task must: (1) focus on awareness, (2) focus on senses, thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and (3) focus on curiosity and kindness without judgment.
What is this magic task I think meets the criteria? Rock collecting! Think about those escapades along creek banks and Current River’s gravel bars, hikes on trails marked or unmarked, meanderings on gravel roads or the back forty, on foot or via wheels of all kinds. How many of us have lost track of tensions while searching for perfect skipping rocks, or ones with holes all the way through, or ones with familiar shapes or fascinating colors and textures? An interesting rock can catch our attention even if we aren’t aware we are looking. That’s always a welcome diversion. I have been known to holler, “Stop! Back up! I want to get that rock back there!” while crossing my fingers that it won’t be too big or too buried to rescue from the ditch bank.
Looking at rocks means you WILL stick an occasional one in your pocket or bag or toss it in the back of the car for remembering later. Extra special ones might rest with other treasures on a shelf in the house, or be displayed in a favorite flower pot. Some might be incorporated into crafts or painted. Others will adorn flowerbeds and birdbaths. All will stay with a story.
Rock gathering is a bit like star gazing. We get outdoors, we move, we can do it by ourselves or share the time with others. The best rock collecting experiences involve kids, listening to their explanations of the whys and wherefores of rock peculiarities and accepting their special gifts. There are no costs and no negative side effects to this easy way to connect, explore and ease our minds. (There are some laws but we won’t break those). It even has its own wacky holiday – today. September 16 is Collect Rocks Day.
“When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand” comes to mind. In one hand, hold another’s, and with the other, pick up a rock and treasure both.