by Ariadne Green
Getting out of the urban noise of a city and into nature puts you at ease, nurtures your soul and expands your consciousness. Your mind quiets and as you take it all in you are delivered in to a space of peaceful contemplation. Moments in which you are surrounded by nature's beauty are sacred moments. Whether a trip into a wilderness, a forest where the sun is filtered by the trees, a red-rock desert or the landscape of a secluded ocean beach, you are welcomed and awaken to something extraordinary, not only to that which is before you, but that which is within you.
Science tells us if you want to grow smarter, walk in nature. A study conducted by John Jonides, University of Michigan Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, found that when the participants returned from the nature walk, they showed a 20 percent improvement in mental performance but showed no improvement when they returned from urban walks. While science remains focused on examining the brain's potentials for the sake of productivity, mystics, shamans and poets teach us about the human spirit. Their words about nature offer us a more transcendent view of the relationship between ourselves and nature.
Along with the words of mystics, whose consciousness has touched the sacredness of nature, here are some practices to make your experience in nature truly enlightening:
Attune to Nature's Power and Feel the Shift
Nature is my medicine.
Nature transmits energies that take the weight of the world off your shoulders and tune you up a notch in consciousness. Nature's power is creatively bursting forth with color and invisible vibrations the first awaken you and then subtly and by increments bring your mind, body and soul back into balance. As you sit or walk in nature, attune by breathing in the vibrations through your heart and see for yourself how much more alive you feel. A dose of nature is medicine.
Feast on the Beauty
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.
The intrinsic beauty of nature is surely something to marvel at, absorb and appreciate. As your eyes grow wider, after having cleared away cobwebs that obscured your view, you notice that colors are intensified and the symmetry of landscapes are more defined. Appreciation brings you an even more powerful perspective as your heart embraces what your eyes can only see. Practice appreciation by blessing the trees, every flower and blade of grass at your feet and they will reveal even more of their secrets.
Let the Elements, Elementals, and Animals Guide You
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
On your walk through the park, rather than forging your own path or following a well-treaded trail, let the rustling wind or the call of a bird guide you in another direction. Nature will beckon you forward to explore her mysteries in hidden places where you might stumble across something most wouldn't have the opportunity to see. As you surrender your will to the call of nature, the natural world becomes your guide, nurturer and teacher.
Commune with the Spirits
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
Native Americans believe the rocks, trees, and flora contain the spirits of ancestors and the "relations" they call the animal spirits. From a shaman's perspective, the rocks talk, the trees sing, and the ground tugs at your feet. While wandering through a nature preserve, the spirits come out to greet as well as to guide and teach you about your soulful connection to the natural world. Once the veil has been lifted from your eyes, you may notice an ancient ancestor's face seemingly carved out in the bark of a tree. You may find a rock in the shape of an animal or a larger geological feature that resembles an animal sentinel placed by the Creator to oversee the workings of nature. Sit beneath such a tree or rock formation, close your eyes and feel the spirits that surround you. They will humble you with a profound sense of oneness and love.
Read the Signs and Recognize Metaphors
You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
The answers to the deepest questions can be found in the metaphors of nature. A tree with two trunks twisting upwards mentions you and your lover in a fond embrace, a heart-shaped rock sparks the dawning realization that it is love that binds everything and a squirrel busily collecting acorns may remind you to gather your own resources. More than just the product of your imagination, these are metaphoric synchronicities
Gather the Gifts
Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.
On your walk, nature may bestow a gift. A feather dropped from a flicker, a smooth pebble from a stream that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, a twisted branch you can use as a walking stick or as a prayer stick that you can decorate with feathers and yarn later on become your sacred objects. Indigenous elders teach that sacred objects hold the power and spirit of nature within them. They refer to crystals, stones, claws, and sticks as medicine objects, some of which are carried around in a pouch. Symbolically, the gift nature bestows binds your heart to your experience in nature and reminds you always that you hold a piece of nature's mystery in you forever. Honor it.