A large bag of organic birdseed sits by my front door…
Every morning I fill a small travel jar with seed, as I grab my shoes, bag and jacket. Why? Because, I aim to remember the three essential items when I leave home each morning – a practice Sharon Gannon imparted to the Yoga world.
Second, mala beads.
And Third, bird seed.
(Sometimes I forget my keys, but I never forget my birdseed!)
In The Magic Ten and Beyond, feeding the birds is the third practice, which Sharon has called “Nourishing the Way”. In Yoga, everything we do is larger than just the action; the intentions are always elevated, higher, and the same goes for the “birds”. In some ways it’s a straight forward practice (think literal birdseed, and legit really feeding birds). But in no way is this mundane. This practice truthfully is a call to action, a tangible opportunity, to step into that action of service (after the prior moments were more internal in execution). It allows me, and us all, a daily chance to have my thoughts , words and *actions* contribute to the happiness and freedom of all creatures.
It is hardly a burden or very difficult task to fill a small jar and scatter some birdseed each day, and it’s neither expensive nor time-consuming. What it is: super valuable, super simple, super doable. This seed offers the wild animals who share the planet something healthy to eat. An honest observation of the world around us reveals that a simple healthy meal isn’t always a given for anyone, even the wild creatures. Very often, wild birds and other creatures resort to consuming the remnants of human trash that have been carelessly left behind on the streets, in parks, or in the forests and streams and beaches that were once natural habitats.
It is an inverse relationship: as landfills will increase, the wild world is threatened and will decrease.
We are the ones to plant the seeds of hope and of compassion. Sometimes that looks like a handful of birdseed scattered underneath a tree. But as I mentioned, sometimes it’s literal birdseed; sometimes it’s something else. The intention guides, and the situation allows. “Nourishing the Way” is about giving something tangible without an expectation of anything in return. It may also look like feeding a pet, watering some plants, caring for a garden, planting flowers that attract wild bees, donating some delicious vegan food to a pantry or a neighbor… The list goes on!
I like to play with all of these and more. It’s actually fun to be creative in this practice of planting seeds of love. Sometimes, I secretly plant little jars of birdseed in my friends’ bags so others are inclined to feed the birds with me… (assuming they don’t mistake the birdseed for a snack that they try to nibble on, but so far so good)!
Rather than waiting for the world to change, this practice reminds me that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for “. We are the ones to plant the seeds of compassion, patience, thoughtfulness, conservation and sustainability and above all love. A love that nourishes is something that we can begin to experience through daily practice – through something as simple as feeding the birds.
As so, as I finish writing this blog piece and prepare to start my day I am ready to gather my keys, my mala beads, and my birdseed. I might forget my keys, but I will never forget my birdseed!
1. Keep organic birdseed somewhere easy to see and reach in your home. Add it into your morning routine and sprinkle some around town!