Nature and people are simply part of one another. If we bring our awareness to what is around us and within us, this becomes obvious. We cannot be considered separate. The natural world is at the very heart of our being.
Find your sense of aliveness
If we are willing to listen and pay attention to nature, we will begin to recognize our innate sense of connection and belonging. Mindfulness of the natural world is likely to be one of our deepest experiences and our greatest opportunities to feel truly alive.
We are alive. Along with every other living being on our planet, we have been gifted the simple yet wondrous opportunity to embody life.
What if the point of our lives were simply to live among all the beautiful life forms that have arisen in the natural world?
Consider for a moment that the joy of being alive could be our only purpose. We belong in the natural world. We are the natural world, just like the trees, the flowers, the sun and the sky.
When I am out in nature, I feel an innate sense of belonging. I don’t feel alone, I feel alive. Experiencing the mystery of a forest, noticing the sunlight flicker on a tree’s leaves, watching the flow of a stream trickling over rocks or listening to the song of a bird, I always find companionship in nature. We are not separate. We are integral parts of each other.
Open up to life
As human beings with the ability for conscious thought, it is easy to live our lives wrapped up in our problems, dwelling on the past, planning for the future, caught up in urges of obtaining pleasure and trying to rid ourselves of pain. What if we stopped for a moment and opened up to life as it is right now, in front of us? Live in it. Listen to it, look at it, smell it, touch it and taste it, as often as you can. Feel the simple ex-perience of being alive. It is always accessible, wherever we are, whatever we are doing and whatever is going on in our lives.
Have you ever just sat down for a moment and felt the warmth of the sun on your face? Appreciated some beautiful flowers in a park on your way to the supermarket? Or marvelled at stunning displays of autumn colours in the trees? Try it. Notice nature around you. Give it your full attention from time to time. Experience it with all your senses, and really look, as if you are encountering it for the first time. You too are nature. You too are alive.
Getting in touch with the Earth
When we are in touch with the earth, we can appreciate that we are part of all that is around us. Find some grass, a meadow, a park or a bit of garden where you won’t be disturbed. Lie down on the ground. Become aware of the earth beneath you. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Notice what your breathing is like. Bring your attention to how each part of your body feels as it is in contact with the ground. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face, breathe in the scents, notice the breeze against your skin and hear the sounds of nature. Allow yourself to experience this moment and gradually let go of the idea that you are separate – you are connected to the earth and part of life itself.
Finding meaning in the natural world
If you ever have days when you wonder what life is all about, try this. Sit beneath a big tree, lean back against its trunk and look up through its branches to the sky. Try to put aside for a moment any thoughts you are having at the time and just enjoy being there.
Discovering that nature is our home is the most comforting realization I have ever had. Awareness of the natural world brought meaning and happiness into my life. Every day, regardless of what is going on in my life, the natural world gives me the chance to see that I can enjoy being alive at every moment. We can simply look at nature, listen to it, touch it and smell it. There is always an opportunity to marvel at a beautiful flower, to gain a sense of calm from a breeze, or to watch a bird soaring above us in the sky. When I spend time with nature, I feel an infinite sense of freedom. I can just be myself, as I am in that moment, without being judged.
From Mindfulness and the Natural World © 2013 by Claire Thompson, published by Ivy Press.