“First Bird of My Day” is a worldwide game that began when an English woman decided to be mindful about which bird she saw first each day.
In the May 2022 issue of The Simple Things magazine, Hannah Bourne-Taylor told her story. It began when she and her husband moved to a remote village in Ghana for his work. She felt depressed and disconnected at first. Then she noticed that the birds around her were unfamiliar and beautiful.
As she began to learn about them, she began a mindfulness practice of looking outside each morning to note what bird she saw first. When the family returned to England, Hannah began sharing her game on Twitter using the hashtag #firstbirdofmyday. (Her Twitter handle is @WriterHannahBT)
Over time, people around the world have started playing the game. On the day I wrote this, one man was sharing a map of everyone’s first birds on the Twitter hashtag. She even gets posts from Antarctica, which the bird mentioned is often a penguin.
Creating mindful routines and rituals like this can build mindfulness and add joy to life. Those of us practicing Christian mindfulness also can pray over the first bird and its winged brethren. Due to the global climate change, many species are experiencing declines. We can thank God for the birds, which Jesus loved to observe, and pray for their future.
Listen. One of the pandemic’s benefits has been an increase in the amount of time spent in nature. In fact, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development used the pandemic to study the benefits of time in the fresh air.
The results were even better than expected. Not only did spending time outdoors improve general well-being, but it also altered and improved brain structure. The areas of the brain impacted affect mood, concentration and working memory. Spending time in nature could not be a better idea.
Christian mindfulness practices are all easy to adapt to the outdoors. One of simplest is mindful listening to the quiet around you. Is silence ever really silent? Tuning into the sounds around you is a great way to stay in the present moment. And hearing those sounds offers opportunities for prayers of gratitude and worship for the world God made.
The practice is simple.
- Go to a place outside where you can feel safe and relaxed.
- Close your eyes, if you’d like, and listen to the sounds of your own breathing first.
- Thank God for this opportunity to be in His creation.
- Listen to the sounds as they occur. Hear them come and go.
- If you identify a sound of something you love (a robin, for example), praise God for it.
- Notice how this impacts your mood and your body.
- Close with a time of worship by thinking about the creation around you.
It’s like your mother said: Go outside and play. It’s good for you.