When you read this Life Adventure Notes, I will have just returned from some much needed time off. My vacation plans revolved around being outdoors as much as possible. Over the past few years, my business has expanded and become more demanding. The pace of the change has thrown me off step and out of synch with my life. The result is a big need to slow down, to rest and to get restored. Like so many people, for me this happens best outdoors.
Nature is one of the ways out of our pain regardless of the source of the pain. We’ve been talking about loneliness over the past few months and Nature helps there as well. Although you may feel alone in Nature, it’s hard to feel loneliness when facing the quiet activity of the natural world around you. Instead, you often feel the marvel and the mysteryof being part of something much bigger than yourself. This brings a feeling of connection and even belonging that pushes loneliness away. Even without other people!
Have you ever wondered why so many people are drawn to the beach? Even though they may only have a little piece of sand to themselves and may never go near the water, thousands of people go to the beach for the Nature. For the sun, the sound of the surf, the beauty of the sparkling water. Nature is food for our soul.
I’ve been soaking in some sunshine and the sound (and feel!) of lots of rain over my vacation time. I’m feeling renewed and ready to keep this slower pace going as I settle back into the work world. I’ll be following the ideas in this month’s main article. Please read them to see which will work for you, then join me in allowing Nature to feed your soul more often.
SPRING INTO NATURE
Over the past few months, we have reviewed loneliness and some of its causes and effects. We’ve also discussed some of the remedies for loneliness, one of which is to spend time in Nature.
Nature is the great equalizer. Nature rains the same on everyone; it also warms without prejudice. Nature is the great healer.
Think back to when you were a young child or youth. Was there anything you enjoyed as much as being outside playing, daydreaming, walking, bike riding, etc.? Kids have an amazing way of ignoring the mosquitoes while focused on playing outdoors. Sweating or getting dirty was a badge of how much fun you had, not something to wrinkle your nose at.
With spring well into its display of new leaves and brilliant blossoms, this is the perfect season to take time to connect with nature. It doesn’t need to be an elaborately-planned outing or trip. It can be relaxing quietly in your back yard – lying on a blanket or sitting in a chair – just being. Just listening. Just resting. Just smelling. Just observing. Not thinking about the lawn needing to be mowed or the flower beds needing to be weeded or the trim needing to be painted. But instead to passively notice the colors, textures, sounds, smells and feelings surrounding you.
Studies show that people who watch clouds are more creative than those who don’t pay them any attention. When was the last time you just watched the clouds drift by? Or the sun rise? Or the sun set?
Moving water – such as the ocean, a waterfall, a babbling creek – creates negative ions which affect you at subtle levels, causing you to be more positive and relaxed. Being by or in water cleanses you, lifting your worries from your mind, washing away burdens from your body.
Birds sing as if to proclaim the beauty and joy of the day. How often do you hear them on your way to your car to drive to work? Robert Lynd wrote, “In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.” When was the last time you watched birds flying from tree to nest to tree? How many bird calls can you identify? Which trees near you are the most attractive to woodpeckers? When was the last time you examined a feather close-up?
Gardening is called “dirt therapy” by many of its devotees. To work with the earth and its creative abilities is a magical activity. We are co-creating miracles with nature. We recreate for ourselves the child-like wonder of the sprouting seed in the Dixie cup. We dig and plant in anticipation then watch growth with pride and joy.
When was the last time you visited the woods or forest? Do you have a favorite escape in nature? Where it is, and how often can you visit? When can you visit there next?
Our lives gain momentum every day. It is impossible to keep pace, and the more you try, the less healthy you become. Your own human rhythm isn’t a natural fit for the pace of today’s world. Instead it’s natural for you to be attuned with nature’s rhythm. Having nature as an anchor supports you even when the world around you is unpredictable and uncertain.
One practice that can reconnect you to your own innate gifts is a practice called “Sit Spot”. Sit Spot is a daily routine of sitting in nature (on the ground if comfortable, or in a chair if that is better for your body) in the same spot every day for about 20 minutes. This is the
approximate amount of time it takes for nature to return to “baseline” or how nature’s animal life behaved before you stepped outside. This is when you are able to gain access to the deeper layers of both yourself and the natural world.
The location of your Sit Spot should be easily accessible from your front or back door and no more than 20 steps from your home. This will improve your chances of getting there every day. Even places in the heart of the city will work as long as you have some form of nature around you (plant and active animal life).
Focus on gratitude as you settle into your Sit Spot. Center your attention on your heart and send the energy of gratitude out into nature, throughout your body, and breathe. When you initiate this process, it is normal to have a racing mind, to wonder if you are doing it right, to run your to-do list in your head. To lessen distraction, take care to prevent the weather or temperature from taking attention away from your dedicated time. Dress for your own comfort. This means wear enough layers and outerwear in cooler temperatures and less in warmer weather so that your body and mind do not become distracted with “I’m cold”, or “It’s hot.”
Committing to a Sit Spot for 30 consecutive days, rain or shine, will alter your brain. This daily practice will cause a slowing down of your heart rate, improve the depth of your breathing and will expand your outer and inner vision. As we have become more attached to machines and unnatural lighting, our brains are in a single focus mode, so the wide-open view required in nature is unfamiliar. Once you reintroduce that relaxed yet alert space in your mind and body by being in nature on a routine basis, it expands your abilities to find new solutions and embrace change. A Sit Spot practice will nourish and reinvigorate both your body and soul.
Rachel Carson wrote, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” What strengths will nature teach you?
When in your life have you felt most connected to Nature? How did it help you?
What would you need to make a 30 day Sit Spot commitment?
How can you bring the curiosity and fascination of a child to whatever time in Nature you do have?
Each is a Living Flute
From The Book of Awakening ~ by Mark Nepo
Sometimes we can’t get what we want. While this can be disappointing and painful, it is only devastating if we stop there. The world thrives on endless possibilities. It is what makes Nature a reservoir of health. Yet if the heart is cramped or the mind locks on to its pain, we can narrow wonder to a thread. In contradiction to the endless number of eggs that spawn a fish and the endless number of cells that blossom to heal a wound, we can hold out the one thing we want as the only food. From here, crisis and desperation are a short step.
It becomes a sorry occupation, beating oneself up for the one seed that didn’t take. It is an insidious way: the more we refuse mystery, the more we feel responsible for all that befalls us. Indeed, the more we distract ourselves with analyzing strategies that failed, the more we avoid the true feelings of loss that no one can escape en route to a full and vital life.
Even if we can accept this, none of us is exempt from the turmoil and pain that arises when what we want is love. For once we pour ourselves into loving another person, it seems as if they take who we are with them when they go. In truth, they take a deep part of us, but what feeds the heart from within is endless, and everything that is living heals.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the beauty of trees. Their endless turns of bark and nubs of trunk make each look like a sage. Yet, amazingly, the skin of an old tree is no more than a living map of its scars. Can it be that the cuts turn scars and the scars turn into beautiful quiet notches in which things that fly can nest?
In every space opened when what we want gets away, a deeper place is cleared in which the mysteries can sing. If we can only survive the pain of being emptied, we might yet know the joy of being sung through. Strangely and beautifully, each soul is a living flute being carved by life on Earth to sound deeper and deeper song.
INDIVIDUAL COACHING BY PHONE
Want to stop that feeling that life is passing you by?
Would you like to able to experience your life as an exciting series of adventures?
Would you like to feel more joy and achieve more success?
That is what I help my clients develop in their own lives. Working with a coach helps you overcome the challenges that can keep you from a successful life. Coaching gives you a companion on the journey; someone with whom to discuss events as they unfold and to help you move toward joy in the adventure. Developing clear goals, focusing intently and staying committed become possible.
If you aren’t sure and would like to explore whether coaching is right for you, please send an email to Janet@lifeadventurecoaching.com or call me at 828-691-4655 for a complimentary consultation.