Consider a TreeMar 01, 2021 11:56AM ● By Jon Gottsegen
Open to the Wild
We should listen to the wild. It answers our questions and opens our heart. The songs of birds, trees and grasses touches our soul. Many faith traditions consider nature to be filled with Spirit. My own tradition, Judaism, celebrated a “new year for trees'' this past full moon.
Nature-based mindfulness practices such as “forest bathing” and our understanding of the healing effects of trees and nature is expanding. While evidence of these benefits accumulates, the physiological mechanisms at work are still not clear. Is it chemical? Is it evolutionary? We do know that time in nature demonstrably reduces stress, calms the monkey-mind, enhances emotional well-being, and nourishes our soul.
As a Spiritual Companion and nature connection guide, I am driven by the attunement, wonder, and awe we feel in nature. Our souls come alive. We feel connection to and a relationship with the universal web of life, to our heart, and to love. Nature teaches me to listen deeply, critical to spiritual direction.
Knowing how ecosystems function doesn’t dampen our awe and wonder, just the opposite. Did you know that subspecies of Albert’s Squirrels are specific to the various subspecies of Ponderosa Pines across the Rockies? Each squirrel subspecies has a taste for the particular cambium of the subspecies of Ponderosa Pines. Evidently, they have very discriminating palates! This is awe inspiring to me.
Here are some general approaches to connecting to nature.
- Attune your senses. Take time to feel into your body, smell the smells, and taste the air. Listen to sounds both far and near and all around, and open to your peripheral vision.
- Just sit. Nature responds to us and we to it. To feel into the natural flow of life, we need to be still to allow and observe.
- Be with a tree. Sit, converse, breathe, hug. Whatever moves your heart. Make sure to ask permission first, and approach the tree with reverence, and remember to thank it when you leave.
- Wander. Let nature call to you and go to whatever catches your attention or pulls you. Do not analyze or evaluate just follow your intuition.
- When you leave your natural space, give thanks. It often helps to journal or integrate what came up in your time in nature.
Jon Gottsegen is certified as a non-denominational Spiritual Director from the Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Contact him at [email protected] or learn more about him at Jonspiritualdirectioncolo.com