We are living in a time of loud and bright stimulation … in a world where things constantly call for our attention and tending … in a body that has grown accustomed to being (mostly) warm, dry and comfortable … in a habit of doing, doing, doing.
Who has the time, energy or resources to walk through the forest, sit in the ocean, listen to the river, contemplate on the mountain, or gaze at the moon?
Why on earth would anyone create the space to participate in Nature Meditation? While it might be pretty or relaxing, it may also be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and slightly itchy. Besides, it’s not usually something that we can check-off the List of Things to Do.
What is Missing?
Living this way of being for decades, we have forgotten some essential aspects of being human … and we are experiencing the impact of this memory lapse.
-- We have forgotten that we are made of the very elements of nature itself – earth, air, fire, and water; … and so we feel anxious and disconnected.
-- We have forgotten that our bodies and minds need space to contemplate and integrate all that occurs in our lives; … and so we feel stressed and overwhelmed.
-- We have forgotten that we are part of the immense totality and evolving story of the Universe; … and so we feel inadequate and impoverished.
-- We have forgotten that we are stardust and are connected to every thing and everybody; … and so we feel separate and alone.
What is Available?
Yet, when we spend a mindful, timeless day sauntering on the beach or in the woods, we feel more energized, open and refreshed … in this space, part of us remembers all that we have forgotten, and a sense of peace, inspiration and belonging arises.
Why does this shift occur? What actually happens that has us feeling more alive and engaged? What is it that wakes-up out of the trance of routine, demand, and scheduled time?
What is Awakened?
When we engage mindful consciousness in nature, we come alive to essential aspects of our being.
Here, we become aware of sanctuary – a space where we are cared-for, nourished, protected, and, most importantly for our growth, challenged.
Here, we sense reunion -- a reconnection with a friend who helps us remember parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, who assists us in seen and unseen ways, who generously offers gifts and teachings, all without words. This friend is also, very often, quite fun.
Why Does It Matter?
When we pause the habit of doing, we create the space to notice what truly nourishes us and what we really care about (we know these things because we feel more at ease, more truly ourselves). We can remember the aspects of living that are really important,but that we’ve been putting aside. We can remember to tend to our hearts, as well as our minds. Nature Meditation matters because it helps us remember:
1. Connection: We sense that we are part of a web of life -- a system of interbeing, a system of mutual benefit that is embodied in every breath as the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the plants and trees of the world. We shift into consciousness of relational being, finding ourselves talking with nature rather than about nature.
2. Consciousness: We realize that we have the capacity to engage and interact through the senses of sight, hearing,touch, taste and smell, as well as other ways of receiving information and energy. Then, we begin to wake-up to the real miracle – of being aware of the awareness of sensing, feeling, thinking … and simply being.
3. Big Perspective: We gain a much larger view of the world – one that is beyond our immediate circumstances and known territory. When we see beyond our personal sphere, compassion arises for all beings as we realize we are all sharing the experience of life and living. When we grasp that, at some level,what we do to the world around us we do to ourselves, we have access to a different way of being with ourselves and all beings.
4. Meaning: We recognize that, in this larger view, everything and everyone has a purpose and a role to play,including our own unique self. We begin to realize that every thing and everybody matters, and we find ourselves living in cahoots with Totality.
5. Sense of Beauty and Awe: We connect with our ability to be astounded, surprised and humbled by something we did not expect or create. Coming face-to-face with mystery, we experience the expansion and transformation of what we thought possible.
6. Reverence: We recognize and appreciate the mystery of not-knowing, that there is something at play in the world around us that is far beyond our capacities. In this sacred space, we feel humbled and, perhaps, even a sense of comfort and relief.
Connection, consciousness, big perspective, purpose, awe, and reverence are part of being human … and are essential for having a sense of fulfillment in human being.
What’s the Point?
These experiences, remembrances, inspirations, and pleasant surprises are available to us anywhere, anytime. Our part is to cultivate space and opportunities to realize them.
They are the stuff that dreams are made of … and, yet, they are the universe that we are walking-around-in.They are always, already here – just let yourself look out the window and see them, step outside the door and feel them, take a deep breath and smell them,be silent and hear them, be still and know them.
We come to know them when we dare to go beyond the familiar and “known” … when we let ourselves move slowly and quietly so we can listen deeply to nature, see things as they really are,and feel into our connection with the sacred and profound mystery of being.
Is There More?
And, here’s the bonus, when we drop-into relational consciousness with all beings and the world at large, caring about all-of-it naturally arises. Realizing that our heart and mind are part of the heart and mind of the Universe, it’s easy to recognize that all-of-it matters,and, we know, at a very deep level, that as part of all-of-it, we matter.
Marianne is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through ANFT, a founding teacher of Monterey Bay Meditation Studio, a certified IONS Conscious Aging Facilitator, and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Through her guiding, teaching, facilitating, and private practice, Marianne cultivates healing, transformation and evolution through awareness and connection. Her professional and personal life focus on developing consciousness of and integrating the physiological, cognitive, emotional, relational and spiritual aspects of being. For information about her Forest Bathing sessions and nature meditation retreats (“Waking Up in the Wild” and “Sittin’ in the Waves”), please go to: www.montereybaymeditation.com
Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs PO Box 1764, Santa Rosa CA 95402, USA