It’s easy to reconnect with yourself, in Nature
A slow walk thought a sun-dappled forest; a rock-skipping trek along a river; watching the planet turn against a backdrop of bright stars. These are delicious ways to reconnect with Nature and tune in to your Self. There are countless ways to do this, all of them worthy.
Plants, animals in their natural habitats, and our own bodies, bring us back to center, if we let them. The trees in a forest give us oxygen that calms us and slows/deepens our breathing. The sound of a river or ocean waves soothes us into primal rhythms. Pets and human babies – unadulterated (!) by mental drama – can bring us back into our natural alignment. And there’s always the rhythm of our own heart and breath. We simply have to remember the value of slowing down and coming back into our essence in this way.
There’s something deadening about spending large amounts of time in man-made structures, under artificial lights, sitting looking at a computer screen… Walking on flat sidewalks makes our ankles and hips forget the muscle-affirming workout of uneven ground. Traveling in vehicles, we loose the magic of striding and strolling. We disconnect from the rhythms, sights, smells and intelligence that is part of our heritage as passengers on this planet.
But Nature is never far away. You can see it outside your window. It moves in your intestinal flora. Its rhythm matches your heartbeat. You just have to tune into it. You can make it a meditation to take you back to your core, Essence, Self. Whether you call it God or life force, there is no denying the wonder of it ,or your constant connection to it, once you tune in.
Natural wonder is all around you, even in the biggest city, no matter where you live. You can tap in to it anytime in surprising ways. Take ants, for instance. They’re easily found in both natural and urban spaces. In a vacant lot, around a trash dumpster, even leaving out fruit or a piece of meat on the counter, you will encounter ants. The more you give them your attention, the more you get pulled into their world, their rhythm, and a child-like, open consciousness. And spiders! Watching a spider spin its web is both fascinating and meditative.
As a kid, 108 floors up in the Sears Tower in Chicago, I noticed a large praying mantis outside, climbing up the window. I was so inspired, I watched it for nearly half an hour. That insect is still a hero in my heart, 40 years later!
Bring yourself back into natural harmony
Hanging out in wild, natural wilderness is a fantastic way to bring yourself back into natural harmony. But even a rooftop garden, a cricket you find on the sidewalk, birds, cats, dogs – any little bit of nature, if you pay attention to it – can become a meditation, your portal back to YOU. The trick is to get on that level; get down on all fours, so to speak. You have to slow down to catch the wonder of a spider spinning it’s web. It takes time to watch clouds as the shift and reform. Instead of making your dog walk with you, do what your dog likes best. Let Nature lead.
I am fortunate enough to live on Maui, with fresh waterfalls and the ocean nearby. I see palm fronds swaying outside my window, and hear the wind shuffling through them, even as I write this. There is no lack of green, all year round. But even so, I sit at my desk too much, have to manage congested traffic to do errands, and need to schedule time in nature.
Especially here, where it might be easy to take Nature for granted, I need to watch clouds scud by. I need to watch ants move things in jagged lines. I need to check on the moon and tune into its phase. There was an eclipse the other night and I didn’t go out and look for it. I feel I missed an opportunity. Many times I have gone out to see celestial events to find them obscured by nighttime clouds. But that doesn’t take away their majesty and I never want to loose my awe.
My psyche and soul need to get out in nature several times per week, if possible, and way-way out in nature a couple of times per year. Check out this article in BackpackUniverse.com for more ideas.
This coming weekend, I’m going backpacking in Haleakala Crater on Maui. I’m looking forward to the vivid array of stars at night; the sharp, clear air at 9,000 feet; and the sense that the earth is magical, powerful, unspoiled and vast. I will get to hear silence and the friendly-lonely sound of chucker birds in the cliffs at the back cabin.
It will be a trek to get there. I anticipate sore shoulder muscles and maybe a blister or two. That seems to me a good price to pay for the privilege of having that much majesty all around me.
The more you know about Nature, the more you can can’t help but love and cherish it. It’s so intelligent! If you have aversion to lizards or insects for example, you might need to learn a little more about how amazing they are. Watch a TED talk by Robert full about the engineering brilliance of geckos and cockroaches.
For a virtual reconnection to nature, you can check out some of these resources:
The 2007 Disney film, Earth, is a stunning reminder of the wonder of our beautiful planet. The resonant voice of narrator James Earl Jones delights me as another natural wonder. I also appreciated the message about protecting our wild spaces, preserving habitat, and using the planet gently with awareness of all those who share it with us. Most of all I was left with renewed wonder and awe. For a more pithy juxtaposition of Nature v. Industry, watch the groundbreaking film, Koyaanisqatsi. There are countless videos on the Internet showcasing the wonders of nature. Surf a bit and let your heart open.
I think I’ll take myself outside to watch some ants and stare up through the leaves in of the tree in my back yard. That tree heals me. 😉
Next week, after getting my fill of Haleakala Crater, I’ll tell you all about it. Meanwhile, take a deep breath, appreciate the natural wonder that is your body and before the day is over, tune into some Natural wonder, even if it is as familiar as your eyes reading these words. That’s a natural wonder, too. 😉
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