I have always loved birds. Their beautiful patterned feathers, their melodic calls, or their smooth flight have always been fascinating. It wasn’t until recently, however, that birds became more than just a backyard visitor. Birds became a spiritual presence with much more meaning behind their feathered wings. Birds became mindfulness, peace, hope, and connection with those that have passed.
I have found myself lately being called to connect with the birds. The most peaceful of mornings are spent sitting on my rough rust colored deck greeting the birds. Their melodies allow my mind to fall into complete awareness. Listening to their songs intertwining among the trees is the best auditory medicine. Watching and noticing each color of their feathered bodies paying attention to the subtle changes as they move or enter sunlight. This is mindfulness at its best.
Birds connect me to the mother earth that surrounds us. They draw the eye and the soul down to the grass, through the trees, and up into the crystal sky. They are nature’s alarm clock letting the earth and its creatures know it is time to rise. They explore their earth from land to sea to tree to air, taking in all of the elements. Their spirit soars as high as their wings.
Birds are thought to be spiritually symbolic in many different cultures. In Native American and Christian cultures birds are thought to be a connection between us and the spirit, creator, or divine. In ancient Celtic traditions, birds were thought to be the souls of departed loved ones. Additionally, specific types of birds have different individual meanings. For instance, a hummingbird represents love and joy. (Clifford, 2021) Birds might simply be flying creatures to some. However, to others, birds carry deeper spiritual meanings.
For me, the peaceful mornings sitting on my deck and connecting with the birds are always a spiritual experience. Each song or bird call roots me into the here and the now of that moment. Oftentimes the birds are never seen, but the presence of hundreds of birds in the trees around me is a comforting one. When I hear the melodies of the colorful winged creatures around me, I find myself connecting spiritually to the earth, to my faith, and to all creatures of the earth and beyond. A visit from a bird is a reminder of the beauty around us and what we all have in common.
I am becoming familiar with their calls, each unique in tone, rhythm, volume, and pattern. As I intently listen, I am becoming more aware of how communicative birds are with each other and with us. When I begin to recognize their calls, I can then begin to know who to look for. A melodic morning call means a robin is nearby. I gentle cooing is the somber yet peaceful song of the mourning dove. A harsh yelling song tells me a blue jay is near. A buzzing is the sound of a hummingbird’s rapid flight visiting our garden.
To me, birds are spiritual connections and messengers. They represent our joy, our sorrow, our laughter, our tears. They visit us when we need them to. They have meaning behind their physical earthly body. They remind us of better times or of loved ones passed. They connect the earth world to the spiritual one. They land and sing to bring us melodies of hope and peace while soaring high above us in flight of spirit. They seem to visit us just when we need, providing the message we have been searching for. Usually in the form of hope and peace.
I watched a documentary recently about a beautiful woman named Colette Marin-Catherine. Colette, a French Resistance fighter, travels to Germany with a history student friend to the site of the concentration camp where her brother, Jean-Pierre, was killed. At the end of the film, as her friend is crying, Colette says to her:
“Listen. Do you hear that? The birds singing. Who knows if birds are not a collection of all our sorrows? Maybe Jean-Pierre is telling us he’s happy.” Perhaps the birds are our emotions and perhaps they are spiritual messengers of peace and hope.
Whatever birds mean to you, I hope they can at least bring a mindful experience to your world. Sitting with the birds is a mindful practice utilizing the senses and nature connection. Find a moment, morning, day, night to practice with the birds.
Deepen the breath imagining a soaring breath entering the nostrils soaring effortlessly through the body and out with each exhale.
Find an earth connection. Notice where your feet, sits bones, back, neck, or head connect with the earth.
Give yourself permission to ground into this practice.
Begin to notice any bird presence around you. Notice if you can visually observe any birds.
Notice their flight, their movements, colors, shapes, size, texture, interaction with other birds, and their eyes, wings, and beaks.
Begin to notice their sounds. Perhaps it is their call, their song, the sound of their wings or their feet as they move.
Begin to just observe the experience.
Do birds have a spiritual connection for you? Just notice and find awareness.
Let the experience be a mindful one.
Eliminate judgment of the experience.
May your life be filled with mindfulness and many moments connecting with our feathered friends.
Clifford, G. C. (2021, May 12). Bird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens). World Birds. https://www.worldbirds.org/bird-symbolism/.