I’ve just read something fascinating online in The Guardian. Seems termites are into mindfulness meditation—aaah, well, I mean mindfulness amputation.
So, first I was drawn to the picture. An awesome shot of a cheetah whose butt is parked on a giant termite mound in Namibia, its fierce amber eyes seeming to study the horizon for prey, the golden plain going away behind the big cat to blue mountains in the distance.
The story that follows beneath the photograph is about those lesser creatures, the termites. And it’s as compelling as the image of the cheetah. A real page-turner!
The article is about how science is looking into the way they chew up wood. Turns out, the genes in the microbes in a termite’s gut might help us turn wood and grass into biofuels. Cool.
But here’s the bit that brought me to my computer keyboard: “…termite parents bite off the ends of their antennae, which may make them better at raising their young. Antennae give termites lots of sensory information, and biting off the segments toward the ends could reduce that stimulation…”
They chew off their cable hookup and cut down on the daily news feed!
They can then pay attention to what’s at their kneecaps. All those kids, literally millions. I’m not raising termite babies, but I do have input that could use some trimming. Some serious modification of my tendency to obsess over stuff. Which is not real stuff. Only thoughts about stuff.
I think too much about needless things I cannot use, trouble over things I cannot change. Thoughts fly around in my mind like so many dry leaves stirred by an autumn wind.
Enter some good old mindfulness meditation, where we practice cutting down on myriad random thoughts and focus instead on experiences.
Especially what’s going on right now, in the up close and personal world right around us. Heed the ancient advice to take no thought for the ‘morrow, forgiving the past, shedding mindless worry.
When we’re mindful, we hear birds calling and dogs barking, the neighbor’s lawn mower.
We smell wood smoke, fresh cut grass, rain and the brackish bay water. Lawn mower exhaust.
We feel the wind in our hair, and on our neck and face, or the ground beneath our bare feet.
We focus on our breathing, and even keep count of the automatic breaths, try to find the pulse the of our heart in a toe, a finger, in our forearm on the kitchen table.
We taste one bite, chewing slowly.
We learn to be here right now. We learn to control our thinking and find some peace and quiet, some stillness and silence.
I want to do better. But I don’t want to hang out with termites for inspiration. On the other hand, I’ve got this little dog pal, Bobby who might help. My sister Sandra recently got photo evidence of Bobby trying to teach me a better way. He’s perched on my shoulder looking out the window at the real world in real time and I’ve got my face in a screen, probably being stirred up by stuff better left to politicians and reporters.
Maybe he’ll bury my iPhone like a bone. Under a termite mound!