Letting in the Sun

by Matthew Daniell


(Published in the Newburyport Daily News newspaper, February 10, 2018)


    About nine years ago I had solar panels installed on my house in West Newbury. I did this so that the natural power of the sun would provide an energy source of electricity for the needs of my family. One concern I had was that the amount of shading from nearby trees would block the sun over time. This didn’t happen much in the first few years but sure enough the trees have grown and the efficiency of the whole system has diminished.  So I have thought to myself, if I want to maximize the availability of light what is the best course of action:  Should I just live with it as it is? Should I spend a lot of money and time to have the trees cut back, and then do this again in some years, or have a selective tree or two cut down?  So far I have done nothing, but I know the power I am receiving from this natural abundant source is slowly diminishing.


This story serves as a metaphor for the power of present moment awareness, the truth of the nature of the forces that block it, and strategies we can employ to keep this natural source of renewal alive and our connection to it unblocked.


    Many studies have shown how simply learning to pay attention to the present moment through watching the breath or experiencing our senses more fully can provide a powerful source of energy for our lives.  Like the sun this source is renewable.  All we need to do is not block our ability to be present and be nourished by the things that touch us in life.  In this metaphor the branches and leaves that block the sun are like the thoughts, judgments, opinions, worries and other preoccupations that take us out of being fully present in our lives.


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