Have you have ever felt a connection to Nature? I mean a really, really deep connection?
Where this connection has happened accidentally it will have come as a complete shock; a total revelation. You will always remember where you were when it suddenly dawned on you: I’m no different from anything else in nature; animal, mineral or vegetable. Nature isn’t a collection of individual parts; trees, rocks, animals, plants, it is a presence in its own right, it’s alive and I’m an integral part, I’m not separate from it.
This is more than just a realisation, it is way more than a conclusion that you have slowly come to. When this happens to you it hits you with the force and speed of an express train. You feel it; in every cell of your body you feel it and what is more you understand it, fully understand it. You have suddenly acquired a deep knowing, one that you cannot put into words or explain to anyone else. If you have not experienced it, my description here will not do it justice for that very reason, but if you have, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
When this happened you probably weren’t out seeking a profound experience; but by heck you got one. At that precise time everything felt right in the world; a total peace exuded from every pore of your surroundings and enveloped you. You had connected with the presence of Nature (capital N) as a whole, whatever you want to call it Gaia, Mother Earth or anything else.
I call these experiences light bulb moments – someone threw the switch and you could see for blooming miles.
In mainstream Western culture there are no models for doing this intentionally; our culture has wiped the concept of the Spirit of Things from our psyche. We know that nature makes us feel good and we love being in it but we never go any deeper; in fact we have lost the knowledge of how to do so. In true Wallace and Grommit style we treat nature as a ‘Grand Day Out’.
If you have ever had an accidental connection you will already know that there is SO much more and it is possible to experience this profound connection intentionally. This is the doorway to the reconnection with your own spirit and its relationship with the worlds around it. Nature (remember the capital N) is out there waiting for you to accept its invitation and re-connect.
It is no good complaining that your vacuum cleaner isn’t working if you haven’t plugged it in. So, go on, put the plug in the socket and see what happens.
To connect with Nature you have to spend time in Nature. When you take time to allow yourself to consciously connect with Nature you discover that you are never really alone and that no matter what life throws at you; good or bad there is always a deep underlying sense of joy in your life.
Intention isn’t everything
If you spend enough time around people who class themselves as ‘spiritual’ you will hear the cry it’s the intentions that are the important thing; try using that one with any recognised course of learning. Enrol, then don’t bother to turn up for half of the lessons, don’t bother to undertake half of the course work, don’t bother to listen to what you are being taught and don’t bother to communicate back what you have learnt (do the assignments). No matter how good the intentions were to do it, it will still result in a big, fat, fail.
Yes, you need a clear, strong intention to connect with Nature but you also need commitment, you need to learn to listen and to communicate. These are the first steps to developing a relationship.
We all know the importance of spending quality time with the people in our lives, time where we can give our complete attention to the other person. When we are in groups we tend to talk to each other, silences are experienced as uncomfortable; we also adjust our behaviour according to the social norms of the group that we are with. Social patterns, chitter-chatter and not being able to be free to be yourself can all get in the way of connecting with Nature. Communicating with Nature works best as quality time, you; the true authentic you and Nature, together.
It doesn’t have to be that hard to find a suitable place, your own garden, a quiet corner of a local park or if you are out in the countryside with a friend/friends asking for an hour of ‘me time’ will all provide an opportunity. All of Nature is perfect so just look for any place that you are drawn to.
Sit Still, Look Long, Be Quiet
You can have spiritual experiences whilst doing most things; they are not exclusive. However, to connect fully with Nature, learning to sit still to allow your mind and body to become quietened and focused makes it a lot easier. Thrashing around in undergrowth or bowling up a path at a rate of knots will prevent you from being aware of most things that are around you and certainly any wildlife will have seen you coming miles off and have gone in the opposite direction.
Sitting, relaxing and observing your surroundings in silence will enable you to start noticing all the little details; and the longer you sit the more you will take in. See, hear, smell, feel and sense everything that is around you, moment to moment and enjoy all the sensations that you will receive, you may even go into sensory overload.
Be prepared before you go, dress for the weather and also dress for sitting not walking around. The longer we sit the more our body temperature drops, so taking extra layers to put on and something to sit on is essential.
And Now For Something Different – Communication
If you have been raised within Western culture you will have been indoctrinated with the belief that whilst human beings have souls or spirits the rest do not. It may not be too much of a push to suspend that indoctrination and accept animals as also having soul or spirit. Extending this to flowers, trees, rocks, rivers and then adding the idea that we can communicate with them could have your rational mind spitting the dummy.
Once you have already felt a connection to Nature; something that the Western scientific view has no explanation for, and having felt something, experienced something you know that it exists. You may not be able to explain it or prove it to others, but you know that it exists.
Is this knowledge within you and your yearning for a deeper connection enough for you to throw off this indoctrination and conditioning and give it a go? Try something new? Only you can make that decision.
If it is enough this is where it gets really exciting; look around you, ask yourself what you are drawn to and whatever catches your eye, let your mind focus on it. Allow your senses and intuition to take over and guide you.
Try talking to it –
Questions are always a good place to start “what is it like to be a ????”, or if you have a problem that you are wrestling with ask if there is any insight that this natural object could give.
Hearing the Answer can be a little bit trickier
Sometimes words will pop into your head and when they are not words that you would be likely to come up from your own mind you can be assured that they have come from elsewhere.
Sometimes an idea, awareness or an understanding suddenly pops into your mind – somebody has flicked that switch again.
Sometimes you will be drawn to a certain feature of the object, a particular shape that is metaphorical and sheds light on the question that you asked.
With practice this gets easier – Yehudi Menuhin didn’t start life off as a violin virtuoso, he started off playing ‘twinkle, twinkle, little star’ (OK I made that bit up), but you get my point; to excel at anything a lot of hours of practice goes into it.
Once you are able to communicate with individual elements of Nature the more easily you will be able to communicate with Nature as a whole. The better your communication with Nature becomes the more you will understand your relationship to, and belonging within it. Your communication with Nature is just the starting point, the doorway, the beginning to communicating with many levels of the spiritual realms (if you choose to do so; not compulsory).
Go on, give it a go, you will be surprised at what this will bring into your life. The rewards are immeasurable. When you really connect, something extraordinary happens.