Monday, 26 June 2017

Religion and Mindfulness

This Spring, I have visited the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, known to Sudburians simply as "The Grotto," here in Sudbury on two occasions with my best friend. The first time was to show her the Grotto because she had never been there and the second time was to have a picnic there for her birthday (although it was raining on and off so we didn't stay very long). It is a very beautiful place here in our city. I always think of it as a hidden gem because it isn't something that I see "advertised" anywhere. You usually have to live here to know about it or find out through a friend or through a search online. I first learned about it through a short little blurb in a Sudbury history pamphlet and I have since found some more information about its history on its old centennial website. The area is not only home to the statue of Mary but includes several other religious monuments, some spiritual and decorative monuments, as well as grounds filled with paths, benches, and flowers. A flat labyrinth can be found where one is supposed to meditate as they follow the path to the center. There is also a fountain surrounded by pillars that have a roof. This part of the area is a common place for people to take graduation and wedding photos. Since I went during the Spring, the fountain's water wasn't running but it's beautiful when it is!

One thing that is made clear about the Grotto is that it is not only a place for religious people or people who follow specific religions. It is a place for anyone to go to relax, reflect, meditate, or pray. I'm not religious but I do consider myself to be spiritual so this is a lovely place to visit. When I visit, I just like to look around and take it all in. The view, flowers and plants, monuments, and layout of the area are all things that I enjoy. I appreciate that we have a place like this in Sudbury, even though it has a lot of monuments that I don't identify with. That's ok. It isn't entirely about just one religion. It's about spirituality and appreciating the beauty of life. It's also a good place to just sit and think.

I find that religion and spirituality are similar to mindfulness. You slow down and notice the world around you or pay attention to certain aspects of your life. Instead of just moving through life from one thing to the next, you take the time to look around you and appreciate all of the beauty. Gratitude is a big lesson in religions and I think that gratitude is a part of mindfulness too. Mindfulness involves living in the present moment and I find that when we live in the present moment, we realize just how much there is to be grateful for. The world is so busy and noisy these days and people seem to just be rushing through life. We need to learn to slow down, relax, and appreciate our lives.

Someone once told me that prayer is a form of meditation and it's true when you think about it. During both prayer and meditation, you are focusing on the present moment and focusing on a specific thought or several specific thoughts. They are also both times of relaxation. There are many different ways to meditate and you can actually see many different activities as a meditation or turn them into a meditation. Prayer is simply a more religious form of meditation. The Grotto here in Sudbury is a place where some people go to pray but if you aren't religious, it is also a nice place to meditate. When you see someone praying, think about how they are also doing a type of meditation. It really opens your mind to all of the possibilities when it comes to meditation.

These red and white tulips are the Canada 150 tulips for Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation which is this year of 2017. It was a nice surprise to see a lot of these tulips at the Grotto along with other flowers as well. The second time that I visited the Grotto with my best friend, there were beautiful lilacs and you could smell their amazing aroma while walking towards the statues. More flowers had been planted since the first time and there were a few more candles in tall glass vase-like holders at the base of the statue of Mary. I also spotted a faerie ornament beside the Grotto. It's so nice to see that this beautiful place is being taken care of for everyone to enjoy. It is a place that people know about but, at the same time, it isn't too busy. Even if there are other people there, they tend to be respectful and not be too rowdy. It's a great place to go to get away from the craziness of life for a little while.


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