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Posts tagged ‘nature’

Among the Trees

This week I was able to spend a little time outside during the early dawn hours.  I enjoy and savor the quietness of the mornings.  I can rest in the soft melodies of the birds, the scurry of the squirrels, the wind, the leaves, clouds just becoming visible, adrift in the sky.  My inner dialogue and the world’s still in an easeful slumber.  Lately, I often pause in awe of the trees.  The Grace with which they meet the seasons of their life.  They are a vision of exquisite surrender, not resisting the wind, the sun, nor the rain; simply rooted, their leaves falling and returning every spring.  And if it was meant that they were to be completely uprooted, then that too is included.

This morning my attention began to settle a little lower.  The earth beneath the trees and the beauty in this.  I could feel the earth holding all of these trees through the seasons of their existence.  The earth does not seem to have an agenda, not fixing nor changing.  It just holds what is.

My attention settles a little closer to home, to the terrain of life within me.  Was the earth not holding me through the seasons of life just as she holds the trees?  Is she not holding all of Life, at all times?  Here, no experience and no one is more or less worthy.  For a while, I rest in this open embrace, just the experience itself.  After a few minutes I walk back inside, remembering Mary Oliver’s poem.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Skyward and Earthbound

I have never known anyone who felt self important in the morning after spending a night on an Idaho mountainside under a star studded summer sky.  Frank Church

These words sum up time away in Idaho with my family. Throughout the week, amidst the mountains, beside the glacial lakes and flowing rivers, I am continually reminded of being a part of something larger. I soak up the moments of self-preoccupations fading into the background as the mystery and aliveness of the universe flood forward.  Wonder, awe and humility are welcome visitors.  In daily life, it is easy and human to get snagged by our stories, our plans and agendas, history and anticipation.  The stories are not the problem, it is our fixation (for some even addiction) to them that creates a heaviness in life.

Amidst nature, for a time life falls into place and perspective.  The self takes up a little less mental bandwidth, making room for the many things that otherwise go unnoticed, unseen and unheard.

I return home with my self in tact.  In fact, we need it to function in the world, but today it feels lighter and more porous, available and open to life.  I am thankful for the time to be away and to be humbled, at the same time uplifted by the earth and the sky in all of its grandeur and brought back down, grounded and at home.


The Sawtooth Mountains


The Peace of Wild Things

Rather than my own words, today I am sharing the words of Wendell Berry that have been very resonant for me.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Returning with Intention

I am just returning from a sweet, two week respite in Costa Rica.  I am so grateful for the time away from routine, pattern and technology, and for the time with myself, family and nature.  This post, though, is less about my time away and more about the return back to life here in Austin.  It’s been an interesting few days.  In Costa Rica, we were very much unplugged.  I was hoping to carry that forward to some degree, but I found myself quickly seduced by the inundation of email, mail and all forms of electronic communication.  I was already beginning to feel the drain of energy in the less real world of technology.  Technology is wonderful and effective, however, only when used skillfully;  when it is a choice, rather than an unconscious habit.

Upon returning, I also felt a bit of emptiness.  The emptiness I realized was mostly due to missing more extensive amounts of time with my family.  I found that it was almost appealing to fill the space with checking my email more often than I needed or considering skimming through Facebook one more time.  Email and social media are really nice ways to stay connected, but they don’t replace the real life connections that we have.

This morning I took time to pause, meditate.  Rather than taking my cup of coffee to my Mac screen, I took it outside to the vibrance around me.  I didn’t have to be in Costa Rica to feel the richness of nature.  It is right here, in this very moment actually.  As I write, I hear and feel the rustling of the leaves in the wind, the life in the sounds of the birds.  I can see the deep hues of green in the trees, the vastness of the sky.  Yes, all this in my backyard.  And sure, I still miss the time I had with my family, but I don’t need to cover it up with email, texting or social media.  I can simply take time to feel the temporary emptiness and be grateful for it.  It only points to the deep love I hold for them.

I don’t want to eliminate technology, but I do want to remember to use it skillfully.  I want to be more present to the real living, breathing life around me.  I want to take time for more face to face or even phone conversation than those over text.  I want to remember to look to nature, often.  I want to remember to sit and be, not only when I meditate, but in the small, ordinary moments through the day.  I want to embrace the life that is here.  I very likely will forget these intentions at times, but I trust that something deeper in me will remember to return.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

John Muir

The Eye of the Lion

When questioned whether I carry any major stressors in life, my initial thoughts are no big stressors for now, knock on wood.  Yes, there are the everyday challenges of family and work, but I do yoga and meditation.  I couldn’t possibly be stressed.  Right?  Well, maybe wrong. 🙂  A friend of mine said to me, “Sheila, you don’t have to be an animal in the wild being attacked by a lion to be under stress”.  So true.

I might do yoga and meditation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I do not carry stress.  I simply work really hard at managing it.   I am often on the go, like most.  I am planning.  I am remembering.  I am juggling many things at once.  Add to that the small misperceptions and commentaries that pass through my mind within the course of a regular day.  That, in and of itself, can build an underlying and deceptive level of stress.  It can especially go unnoticed when I feel that I am doing things to counter it.  I don’t literally have to be attacked by a lion or be in imminent danger to feel like my system is under attack.  Subtle stressors can lie within the nooks and crannies of everyday life.  So much of whether I am in a place of ease or angst has to do with my attitude, my mindset, my willingness to slow down, to let go.  Simple techniques like breathing deeply, taking time to pause and be in the moment, spending time in nature and to do all of it often – these are all ways to counter the stresses that accumulate in the busyness of modern day life.  It’s not just about getting to a yoga class, but rather what you do with that self-awareness through the rest of your day and your week.  Do you use it to make your life more sustainable or do you keep running on autopilot irregardless?
So the next time you find yourself running from one thing to the next, thinking that everything is under control, imagine the lion and pause.  Wherever you are take time to slow down, retreat within and breathe deeply.  Even just a few minutes can be what is needed to reset, self-regulate and continue onward.
The Eye of the Lion

If you are interested in learning ways to counter and manage stress, check out my six week Mindfulness Meditation Series being offered at Yoga Yoga beginning September 3rd.
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