In her first post for us, Emma Mills of her self titled blog tackles the subject of stress, and shares an unexpected, fruitful remedy. Over to Emma…

blackberry picking

“Many of the mindful posts I write are inspired by the natural world. With this inspiration in hand, the writing comes easy and I find myself coping with stress and making decisions with greater ease. And therein lies a tale…

On a recent, beautiful English morning, the sun was bright in the blue sky and the trees were green and luscious. So I went out for spot of mindful walking

On my travels I spotted three beautiful blackberry bushes sitting gracefully at the side of the road and not far from my house. They looked so beautiful and healthy. That’s the thing about plants and flowers: they don’t care who sees them. Everyone can enjoy the beauty and scent of them without rival. Builders, shoppers, kids, vagrant writers… Everyone.

I wouldn’t normally stop to pick blackberries but as lady luck would have it, I was fit for the job. I was walking mindfully – which meant I noticed the blackberries – and I was carrying a little ceramic watering can in my hand. I’d just found in a local thrift store and it became the perfect blackberry carrying device. As I picked and picked, I began to notice something wonderful about the way nature teaches us to be easy and stress free.

I don’t know if you have been blackberry picking, or remember seeing someone do it but it’s really something rather lovely. You see, when the berries are ripe and ready for picking, they literally fall into your hand. You reach over and give it a little feel – very gently. If the time is right, tah dah! No pulling, twisting or labour. They tumble into your hand like a dream.

As you work your way around the blackberry bush, feeling its treasures, you could so happen to approach a blackberry before its time. You feel for the give. That tumbling looseness that means it is ready. Quietly with your fingers, you feel and it doesn’t come away so easily.

I noticed that if I picked patiently, approaching each berry with gentleness and intent, I was able to feel very easily which fruits were ready and which weren’t. (The laborious fruits are often the ones that tasted a little sour).

blackberry picking

Walking home that morning, blackberries in hand, I felt very grateful. My impromptu experience with the blackberries reminded me of the beautiful draftsman in Chuang Tzu’s poem (which I gladly share at the end of this post).

When the time is right, the blackberry falls from the tree; having had all the time it needed to grow fully. With the ripe, ready blackberries in hand, I arrived home to a sweet lunch.

For me, this was very symbolic. It suggests that patience and time make a nice alternative to force and rage. That sometimes, life can be easy if you are sensitive, mindful and if you feel for the give – the readiness.

That’s not to say, necessarily, that one should sit around, taking ones ease and waiting for blackberries to come knocking at the door of their own accord. After all, the fruit was in the oven becoming a pie because I put out a hand and offered the blackberries a ride home. Zero action never a blackberry pudding did make! The small effort of picking felt effortless, and the fruits were equally delicious.

What will you notice on your next walk outdoors? Tweet me on @emmamillslondon – I love hearing what you think about these things.

Love Emma

“Chu’i the draftsman
could draw more perfect circles
freehand than with a compass.
His fingers brought forth
spontaneous forms from nowhere.
His mind was meanwhile free and
without concern with what he was doing.
No application was needed
his mind was perfectly simple
and knew no obstacle.
So, when the shoe fits,
the foot is forgotten.
When the belt fits,
the belly is forgotten.
And when the heart is right,
for and against are forgotten.
No drives, no compulsions,
no needs, no attractions;
when your affairs are under control
you are a free man.
Easy is right.
Begin right and you are easy –
continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
is to forget
the right way
and forget that
the going is easy.

– Drawing The Perfect Circle, Chuang Tzu