I spend a lot of time alone in the wilderness and love the delight of being with all of the elements. Being with the aliveness and listening to the voices of the elementals. I sometimes share the experience with friends – hiking, biking, rafting rivers. I have noticed a tendency of some fellow travelers to label the different flower species or trees or geologic formations. Or to be focused on their gadget that measures elevation gain, mileage, heart rate, etc. I find it interesting to know the difference between a lupine or a penstemon or how much elevation I climbed but I find that when I am in that space I miss out on a lot of the juiciness that I normally experience when I am alone in nature.
It is not wrong to name wildflowers or birds and check them off your list or to monitor your heart rate but I have found that something gets lost or missed in the experience. There is an essence or vibration that comes from nature that is vitalizing. It feels to me that naming or labeling is one way that we distract ourselves and we end up separating ourselves out from nature. We visit nature – rather than BE nature. And we are nature.
Nature is naturally giving – it is abundant and nourishing. I have found that nature can be super nutrition if we pay attention to it in an open and receptive way. It is healing. It is re-vitalizing!
I experience the essence of nature as poetic. TS Elliot said “Poetry happens before the mind.” Poetry happens before we name it or monitor it.
I invite you to some spend time in nature without your wildflower book or your fitbit or strava or earbuds – to experience nature in a new and open field.
I will use the example of a camera lens. Take notice that when you begin to name, label or monitor your experience, your field of vision and energetic field is narrow and focused. In the Open Focus Brain work by Les Femme, his research shows narrow focus causes stimulation of the sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) nervous system. So now… take a few steps back and look at the world from behind your eyes or even the back of your head and widen your field of vision like a camera lens opening wide. Do you notice a different experience? Les Femme’s research shows this simple move can pretty quickly drop you into parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. My experience is I feel more relaxed and connected – to nature, to myself, to the people I am with, to everything.
I invite you to spend time in nature (or just looking out the window while you are doing the dished) and breathe in the beauty. Open the lens, take a deep breath and let the beauty of nature move through you.
Breathe in the essence, color, fragrance before the mind says “This is a lupine that grows in alpine terrain and comes in an assortment of colors …” (You can always go back to your checklist later)
How would it be feel the wind on your skin and let the wind penetrate through the skin to your blood stream and let it nourish your cells?
Or to hear the sound of the wind or a running stream and let that sound move through your body as if your body had no boundaries?
Or to look at a pink flower (yes, I am aware that I labeled it ‘pink’) and breath pink through your eyes, into your head and down and through your body and let pink nourish your organs?
Or to breath in a fragrance as if you were that fragrance?
How would it be to hug a tree (yes… I am a tree hugger) and feel its ‘treeness’? and then let the boundaries of you and tree drop away.
How would it be to just BE even for just a little while?