How familiar are you with the sound of the morning dew dripping onto the forest floor? Have you delighted in the smell of aspen as you come upon a grove? Have you ever stopped to admire the way the sunlight tenaciously peeks through a canopy of trees lighting up random spots on fallen leaves? Did you ever reach out to touch a mist so thick that you could feel it sitting heavily on your cheeks? If you don’t know these sensations, you haven’t fully lived, my friend.
Life is a sensory experience. The best way to feel alive is to engage with it. While people and urban environments are stimulating and can be great teachers, sometimes we need to interact with other Nature to see our nature. Being in the flow of life allows us to be in flow with ourself. And this is a tremendously useful teacher.
Watching the waves ebb and flow along the shore can make it crystal clear to us that things come and go. Now that’s an obvious truth, but when feel the truth of that deeply and apply it to our lives, that knowing can give us a sense of peace that allows us to release the things we try to hold on to. That’s the ultimate freedom!
Seeing the life in the eyes of your dog can make you realize that you own nothing and no one. People and things come into your life for you to enjoy, but they are sovereign creatures with minds of their own. If they choose to share their time and lives with you, it’s a blessing. This can help you to appreciate all that comes into your life on such a deep and true level.
Hearing the crackling of a bon fire as you sleep underneath the stars can put you in touch with the dual nature of fire. It can tear through so many materials quickly turning them to ash. It can also warm you on a chilly night and bring light into the darkness. Perhaps you then realize that your nature is multifaceted too. So you think about how you use your power.
If you want to cultivate this way of knowing, try mindfully walking in nature. This is not hiking where you set a pace and reach a peak. Although it will help with your fitness, it’s not exercise either. There really isn’t a goal in mind. You go where you go and experience what there is to experience. Just take an open mind and begin.
You might ask a question first and let yourself find the answer in nature. For example, I once asked myself if the answer to a question I had in mind lay in the physical world or the spirit world – meaning did I have some work to do in the outer world or inner world. I habitually walk the perimeter of my property, going roughly the same way each time. There is a steep hill along the way, so most of the time I start in the direction that will let me walk downhill. This particular day I did it backward. Some cultures believe that to contact the spirit world, you move backward or go the opposite direction. Bingo! That gave me the answer I needed.
Another thing you can do is just observe whatever there is to notice. You might notice that you’re walking really fast and not seeing. So, you take that as a clue that you need to slow down. Or perhaps you notice how silent the woods are so you stop and enjoy the peace. It could be that this opens the door for peace to flow within you. Or maybe you notice that you’re really working at making something happen. You take that as a cue to stop forcing the flow. This creates a knowing within you that allows you to get into the flow and get things moving in a more natural, easy way.
The earth is our home. When we stay too long away from it, we lose our way. Our winged, two legged, swimming, four legs, plan, and elemental brothers have things to teach us. We’ve built unnatural sanitary boxes that they can’t penetrate so they won’t come to us. We have to go to them. When we go walking in nature, you give yourself the perfect opportunity to learn, grow, and connect.