Connecting with nature in any place
requires a similar toolkit. So once you learn how
to do it one place, it goes with you for life, no
matter where you go.
There are special skills and equipment needed for the myriad ways of being in nature. Hikers, backpackers, rock climbers, divers, jumpers, bird watchers, photographers, etc. have different needs and expertise. A meditative nature walker needs one skill:
The ability to be physically, and mentally still.
The only equipment needed is One's five senses, plus an extra sense- the heart. Just like other activities done in nature, One can develop and strengthen the skills. In addition, similar to sports, a meditative nature walker needs a coach (in this case, a guide with experience and passion),and nature. The guide paves the path, while the nature provides the experience.
Meditative nature walking is passive and gives a sense of unity of The Self with nature. This helps us return our consciousness to our basic Being. Once the ability to slow down the mind is accomplished, One becomes a well- honed instrument that can deeply experience any natural environment to far away places.
I just returned from a month in India. Luckily as a psychotherapist, I already have a set of skills to examine people and cultures. I am also a meditative nature guide who experiences every natural space deeply within my senses, including the heart.
I traveled to an ashram at the southern tip of India on the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. One might say that this was a training camp to strengthen my skills to slow down, finely tune my senses, and open my heart. People at the ashram develop their own retreat: some practice yoga and vedic chanting throughout the day, while others practice pujas, or converse with others of like-mind.
My retreat was mostly silent and in nature. I woke up at 5:30am and went to an area of rainforest where the birds were stirring. The miracle of nature was awakening and praying in unison; it was profound. The wind began to pick up and each bird began to insert itself one by one into the growing chorus. A symphony ensued for a set amount of time before the birds began to break off to begin the activities of their day. I then walked to the Indian Ocean to watch the sun appear and the moon begin to fade. As the wind picked up, the waves moved and each splash against the rocks was unique. There was an excitement within as the waves as it began and then slowly furled, moving in at its own pace to touch the shores.
My mornings from 6:00am. to 9:00 am were spent feeling the special warmth of the breeze, a breeze unlike the ones from Florida or the Caribbean. I watched the colors of the ocean and the waves, I often felt the warm spray of the ocean jump from the rocks and touch my skin. Slowing down each day created a new sense of time, while the hours flew by I sat entranced by sensations and emotions.
My two hours of volunteer experience occurred on the highest floor of an ashram building that overlooked the Indian Ocean, backwaters, and rainforest vegetation that the ashram is set in. The fresh smell and feel of hanging laundry beaten clean on a rock by other volunteers, the overview of beauty of the island, and experiencing the unique sensation of the breeze that occurred at the ashram filled me with love and gratitude.
At the end of each day I returned to the ocean, surrounded by other meditators and yogis watching the sun go down and sink below the ocean horizon. As the sun set and dusk moved in, the birds returned home and began their nightly choir. They did not start one by one at dusk, but all at once - crows shrieked and other birds shared their bedtime songs. Following this was a palette of reds, pinks, lavenders, and blues all in different kaleidoscopes every night. Color merged with a growing blue-black darkness until the color-layered darkness filled the sky, overtaking all other hues. As this occurred, the stars began to emerge one by one.
I felt this experience through my heightened senses. The love in my heart grew markedly. All this was possible because I am a meditative nature walker with abilities developed before India, Through an extensive time spent being silent, I slowed down enough to deeply savor another place in the world. But this ability can be developed by anyone. There are no physical, emotional, or spiritual limitations to immerse in nature.
Curious to find out more? Join me on a meditative nature retreat- visit http://yournaturequest.com and learn how to heighten your senses by a weekend in nature.
Written By: Sharon Goldblum Ph.D
Founder of Your Nature Quest
Dr. Goldblum is a NYS licensed psychotherapist who has worked on Long Island and NYC with individuals, couples and families for over 25 years. She has been faculty at a training institute for psychotherapists and has founded a Wellness Center and Yournaturequest.com retreats, located in the Catskills. She spends part of the year in India following her spiritual pursuits.