Flotsam and Jetsam: Meditating on your Intersect with Society and Nature
11 March 2023

I walk the littoral most mornings. After dropping our daughter Kim at school, I have an hour to just be with what makes me human. The beach ebbs and flows. Waves bring offerings. Sometimes shells, a dead sea bird. The lady from the church is doing her daily litter round. Dog-walkers. Two girls in blue school uniform taking the day off for who knows what. Walking on the beach feels important. It inspired this guided meditation I sometimes use with teams or groups. What I say changes depending on who I’m working with or a client’s particular Intersect, but the essence is largely the same.

Sit comfortably. Take a minute to become aware of your body. Notice the parts of you that touch your clothes, the chair, the floor. Take a few slow breaths. Allow each out breath to drop you a little deeper. Let that which is not you drop away.

Imagine you are walking on the beach. Notice how it is. The sand. The seaweed. The wet and dry. How high did the sea come today? Waves breaking. Smaller waves reaching to the shore. Walk slowly and look around. The dead things. The alive things. Things left by people. Things left by the sea. Anything. Just notice.

Now the beach leads you into an imaginary place where your organisation touches, overlaps with society and nature. It’s distinct. It’s familiar although perhaps you have not encountered it in this way. There’s a customer asking about your products. Maybe she’s worried about organics or over-packaging. There’s the receptionist you sometimes greet in the morning. Her children are home from school and are having tea and bread. No jam this close to payday. You nod if she sees you. You walk on. The CEO’s car is parked on the left. Perhaps you’ll bump into him up ahead. His driver is leaning against the car, scrolling for messages. Up ahead, three women are separating and stacking boxes for recycling. Their small business partners with your logistics operation. Keeps things neat, usually. The owner is laughing, talking in Xhosa about something but you don’t understand. Beyond that a small group of men stand at the side of the road. They have paint brushes ready in case of a job. On a TV screen at the electronics shop across the road, a local activist is talking about climate change. A banker cuts in to talk up green bonds. You sigh. And walk on.

Up ahead is a small thicket of trees. You find a path and the air cools as you enter. You notice the branches and leaves. The movement of birds. The smell of earth. You walk.  Up ahead is a small clearing. The sun is warm but dappled. You head for the centre and sit in the warmth. The space feels welcoming. You relax. And breathe.

You notice some way off that someone is coming. Perhaps from the present, perhaps the past, perhaps the future. Or an animal even. They are moving slowly towards you. There’s no hurry, just movement. They reach the edge of the clearing and you can see them now. They come to you. They bring something. A message. Perhaps a memory, an idea, a gift. A few words. Stay quiet and see if you can hear or see what it is. It’s fleeting, but whatever you remember is right. Hold onto what came to you. It could be anything or just a part of it. Whether it is important or not is of no consequence. Just remember.

They are leaving now and you bow a little inside for whatever they brought. Watch them go. It’s time for you to go back too. You head slowly back along the path. The leaves, the soil, the birds, the colours. You walk through the Intersect and across the beach. You are back where you started, but you have something more.

Become aware of your fingers and your toes. Slowly stretch. Come back to your body. Come back to here and now. Open your eyes.

As always, what we do with gifts is up to us.


Banner photos takenlast week on my morning walk at Glencairn Beach

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