I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” -Henry David Thoreau
We forget that we are Nature. It has somehow become something separate from us, but Nature is that from which we came. It is that which has always provided and nourished us. Nature is a great womb. It is also our tomb. It is a great teacher. It is the Circle of Life. It is the Tree of Life with which we seek reunion and Communion.
Nature is our home. It is where we belong. When we are in Nature, life is simpler, more profound, more alive and more awe-inspiring.
Nature is our first church, the original temple of worship and awe.
Nature is Mother Earth. Nature is medicine.
Nature is sex, creation.
Our Body is Nature. There is forest in our blood and in our DNA.
Nature is the blade of grass beneath our feet. It is a dove. It is the farthest star. Each is a natural creation with their own Energy.
In Nature, there is a connection to grace from which we need not have fallen. We are transparent there, connected and always invited.
Nature is powerful, majestic, innocent, vulnerable and demanding of compassion─ all at the same time.
Nature can help keep us humble. It can give us perspective.
Nature is Non-judgment. A rose does not judge a lily. A lily does not judge a thorn.
Nature is a call to love all of life, to love and honor the great nurturer that it is, who has patiently put up with its prodigal children.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu
Nature teaches us patience. She teaches us healing. She teaches us perseverance. She teaches us of Change and the temporal quality of all that is. She teaches us Acceptance. She teaches us Love (tough love), compassion and the need to Nurture the Nurturer in spite of ourselves.
She ultimately teaches us of Communion, reconnection with Grace and our Divine indigenous place with and within her.
Shinrin-Yoku is “Forest-Bathing,” a term of Japanese origin meaning “the purposeful immersion into Nature for the therapeutic value that it provides.” It is an immersion of the senses: sight, smell, sounds, texture and taste. It is an immersion into our origins. It reminds us of who we are and that we are part of this beauty.
It is ironic that Nature is what now tends to relax us. We seek the calm and the majesty of it and our blood pressure lowers, our shoulders relax, our breathing slows. The irony is that our overzealous fight-or-flight system, which gives us so much stress, worry and anxiety away from Nature, was designed to help us survive in the wild.
In Nature, something tells our Bodies and senses that we are safe and that being there makes sense, that being there is therapeutic.
We lose this for the most part when we step away from Nature and into the busy-ness of our “civilized” world. If only we could stay connected to this Tree of Life at all times.
40 Days in the Desert
In Nature we often have Solitude, or what seems like Solitude. It is easier to be alone in Nature, without human contact, without busy-ness and without the constant distraction that our monkey-minds provide.
While real monkeys are part of Nature, our monkey-minds are not so much. Nature is just too slow for the monkey-mind and it usually takes us a bit of time to adjust to the pace of being in the natural world. Once alone there, however, we start to actually be witness to the activities of our monkey-minds. The pace of Nature, while full of activity, is often plodding. The monkey-mind becomes uncomfortable and we start to see that mind for what it is─ and that it is not us. Eventually, we can be alone with that part of us that truly is “us.” We also begin to see and feel the pain and wounds that might reside within.
We often don’t like what bubbles up when we are in Nature and our minds calm down. That is why we stay constantly busy (and outside of Nature) to avoid it.
There is therapeutic value in sitting with all that comes up, however, in just stripping it all down and being with it. Alone in Nature, we find that we can survive being with who we are and how we feel. We can heal our wounds. We can see the Divinity present in the life around us and Commune with that Divine presence that is part of everything in Nature. We can have spiritual experiences. We can enlighten and awaken under the Bodhi tree.
Nature reminds us that we are not alone; it reminds us that we are a part of this great Beauty. It reminds us that we are connected. We also start to see the modern world for how unnatural and disconnected it can be and we seek to bring our connection back to Nature and Divinity that it so naturally manifests. This is the challenge of being of the Tree of Life and also being in a world that is separated from it and more aligned with the Tree of Knowledge. Nature helps us to step back and see the dichotomy between these two ways of being so that we can navigate through them and integrate them in a manner that leans towards consciousness.
Being with Nature, as part of an overall spiritual practice, helps us to maintain our connection to God.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” -Anne Frank
The Tragedy of the Commons
The Tragedy of the Commons is a simple fable that explains a particular economic theory by Garrett Hardin. It speaks of the Earth as a finite resource. There is an incentive to deplete natural resources of all types from the Earth for the purpose of individual short-term gain. As the story implies, from this “incentive,” there is a ripple effect upon Nature and its intricate ecosystems up to and including total depletion.
In the story, Nature literally disappears as we speak. The reality that this could actually happen is often out of sight to us─ and therefore out of mind. Logically speaking, the fact of the total destruction of Earth’s resources hangs over our heads as an underlying anxiety. It is a threat to our existence and to our children’s children’s existence.
The Tragedy of the Commons is a slow and eventual form of self-destruction; it is a poisoning of the womb. Without conscious actions that protect and preserve Nature, we are literally chopping down the Tree of Life that provides us with our connection to the Divine and all of life.
To not speak this possibility or to minimize or deny it is to deny Truth and to live apart from our Divinity. We can’t be in the Light and at the same time keep the dark aspects of humanity hidden.
Nature will remind us of our duty to Nurture that which has Nurtured us, to be stewards of the gifts given to us, to not live in a short-term perspective of our most immediate benefit nor to live without compassion for our own Mother.
As we sit right now, survival and success of all that is natural is dependent upon the compassion or indifference of humanhind.
“Wilderness is a necessity.” -John Muir
Extinction Rates: What Did You Do To Protect Nature?
An “extinction rates” is a sad term that tracks the elimination of Nature in the form of whole species of living creatures who disappear from natural occurrences or disappear altogether. While extinction in the past has been natural, in today’s world much of it is man-made. Nature trusts us to be compassionate, showing Wisdom and Respect in honoring the gifts given to us. Yet today extinction rates expand in conjunction with measures of human “progress.”
What did you do to protect nature? This question may haunt or be embraced by some while completely ignored by others. It is the question that will consistently confront and challenge us, however. It challenges us to be part of Nature and not separate ourselves from her. It calls on us to unite with her. It challenges us to Nurture Nature, to nurture what Nurtures us. A baby is not responsible for the condition of the womb it is in, yet it is affected by it. Adult spiritual beings, on the other hand, cannot deny culpability when we poison the womb we live in and at the same time are affected by that poisoning.
It will eventually take more Energy to deny the question than to answer it. Those connected to Nature, Divinity and the Tree of Life will answer it well.
Nature is Divine Energy
When I am in Nature, I am awed by the tiniest splendor. I see a trail of ants working through their tasks in unison and─ Wow! I am blown away. Nature charges and refreshes me. My bare feet on beach sand grounds me in such a powerful way. It is Healing. It is therapeutic. I wonder why. I wonder what about it is so different from the world of ordinary human interaction, from the world of commerce, concrete and cell phones.
I know that Nature can be be vicious, but it’s not personal. We can learn from Nature in this regard by looking at what separates us from it. Nature has no ego. Nature neither boasts nor compares. Nature does not try to hide its, well, its Nature. It simply is.
The obstacles and barriers that humans experience in separating themselves from their Divinity are not present in any other being on the Earth. Nature teaches us to remove these barriers of separation so we can have direct access to Divine Energy and be more connected to the Tree of Life.
We can feel this connection with Nature. We can feel its Divine Energy free from these barriers. Feeling this connection teaches us about Communion.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the Universe, to match your nature with Nature.” -Joseph Campbell
Communion is the most powerful force that connects us to and supports Nature. Communion links Nature to us and reminds us that we are part of it and not separate from it. With Communion, we are going into Nature and Communing with it as an extension of Divinity.
Solitude in Nature helps to support our Communion with it and with Divinity.
Respect, Empathy and Nurturance serve to recognize, support and heal Nature as an expression of Compassion. Nurturance specifically serves to Nurture that which has Nurtured us. Nature is a powerful expression of that element.
Wisdom, Justice and Reason serve to support Nature’s care for the long-term. It is not logical nor fair to future generations to poison the womb in which we reside, nor to treat Nature unfairly in any way.
Service can work to directly impact Nature through direct work to support, restore and heal the Earth.
- Commune with Nature as a mutually beneficial activity and a component of your own self-care regimen. In caring for yourself by being in Nature, you can also discover ways that you can care for it. Lie in the grass. Look up at the sky. Hug trees— literally.
- Integrate regular outings into natural, untouched surroundings into your schedule/life. Seek out those areas that will fulfill this purpose for you. Plan varied “Nature Escapes” that are convenient and accessible. Plan others that are more expansive and exploratory.
- Seek Nature out in any and all areas which you traverse─ the weeds growing through the crack in the sidewalk, the hawk sitting on a telephone pole, sunrises and sunsets, the presence of pets and other domesticated animals. Seek connection to Nature everywhere.
- Go barefoot. Put your feet and/or hands into the earth or sand in a kind manner. Connect and Commune with Earth in this way.
- Learn to be comfortable with your naked body. Celebrate yourself as a product of Nature.
- Consider going vegetarian or vegan so as to minimize the harm you cause to Nature and its other inhabitants.
- Support non-profit and grassroots organizations whose missions heal or protect Nature in some manner.
- Learn Astronomy. Learn Geology. Learn Herpetology. Learn Botany. Learn Ayurvedic.
- Participate directly in natural conservation/restoration efforts of some type.
- Breathe. Breathe in fresh, clean air provided by Nature. Feel the Nature in your own Body as a living organism. With each breath, express Gratitude.
- Take stock of your lifestyle habits: How much plastic are you using? Do you recycle? Do you compost? Challenge yourself to improve in at least one of these areas. This can happen all at once (“I’m never using plastic again”) or in stages (“This week, I will start using reusable grocery bags; next week I will buy a reusable water bottle and stop buying plastic water bottles, and so forth.)
Thank you for this precious Earth. Thank you for the life it brings. Amen.
Please let the Earth be safe, whole and healthy. Please help us to heal, restore and protect her.
I Am Life. I am Breath. I am Part of Nature.
Please Let Me Be Me, Part of Nature
I Am a Natural Body; I Am a Natural Being, Aligned with Nature.