Being, Beauty, and Belonging
I hope you had a great summer. This summer I spent a lot of time writing (I am birthing my book :). I also had some time for family, friends, some reflection time, and being in nature.
I don’t know about you, but my happy place is in nature. I was called to the Hawaiin islands this summer. I collected some seashells of wisdom while I was there and I want to share them with you.
Most of us live a lot of our lives indoors. In the summer time we may get outside more, but depending on where we live it may simply be too hot and humid to spend much time in nature. However, evidence shows that nature offers effective medicine for our “over-doing” minds and bodies.
There is a Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which is translated as taking in the forest atmosphere or “forest bathing.” A 2010 study found that participants who walked mindfully through the woods paying attention to their surroundings and senses experienced lower heart rates, blood pressure, and the stress hormone (cortisol) decreased in comparison to those who walked in urban settings.
We can experience this forest bathing in a forest, on a beach, on a mountain top. I find that when I am in nature and give myself spaciousness to really savor it I am able to get in touch with the beauty I see, being, and belonging.
The beauty is the nature all around me that can be easily missed if I don’t pause to witness it on a hike, a walk, or my trail run. Being is simply just allowing myself to be in the moment and not rushing into the next, and belonging is recognizing how interdependent I am with all beings (plants, animals, other humans) in this world. My actions affect everything around me and it is not separate. This is incredibly relevant to how we take care of the earth.
While I was visiting Maui this summer, I had some really magical experiences that I literally was swimming in. I felt called to Maui because I wanted to swim in warm ocean waters and be with sea turtles. Sea turtles are my special animal. They have been since I was little and I have had many opportunities in my life where I have saved many sea turtles, but that is another story 🙂 Sea turtles are one of the most resilient animals and yet so wise and peaceful at the same time.
One day I went snorkeling in search of turtles and found one right away. This beautiful green sea turtle and I were swimming together. We were only about 5-10 feet away from one another. We were close to the shore and by a rocky shoulder, which I discovered is where the green sea turtles of Maui like to be because they can be gently carried by the waves without having to effort too much. They can even rest in this rocky shoulder or reef and nap if they choose, but still have access to the water and air.
The turtle and I were both being carried by the gentle ebb and flow of the waves. I could’ve continued this dance for quite some time, but then another turtle came, and another, and another, and I counted 7 sea turtles and I swimming together. We were slowly circling one another. It was a bale of sea turtles. It was one of the most magical experiences I have had in my life. I was completely attuned to the beauty of these creatures and my surroundings, I was in a very still and heartfelt space as I swam with the turtles and was sending them a lot of loving-kindness so as not to feel energetically threatening, and I could feel for a short while completely connected to this group and family. I and the sea turtles belonged together in this moment.
Over the course of the week, I had even more amazing experiences of beauty, being, and belonging with turtles and nature itself. The wisdom in this is that you don’t have to be amidst sea turtles or in Maui to experience this, but you can find the magic in the moment if you look for it.
3 ways to ignite your mind, body, and heart
Mind – Try Nature Bathing. Allow the mind to simply rest in where you are. There is no past and there is no future, just be where you and soak it up.
- Take your meals outside and allow yourself to witness the nature, the sounds, and/or the air around you. Be nourished from the inside/out by nature.
- Practice walking meditation through a park or on a trail whether you live in a city or a more rural setting. While you are there you might even drop in this question, Where is the magic in this moment?
Heart – Notice how you feel in your heart when you are in nature. Is your heart more open or closed?
- In nature offer lovingkindness to yourself and the beings you come in contact with.
- Try a gratitude walk. Identify all the things in your life you feel grateful for. While I was in Maui, every time I walked outside I couldn’t help but be overcome with the intense gratitude I had for the amazing nature and beauty all around me. When we practice gratitude we come from abundance and abundance is a much higher frequency than scarcity.
Body – Movement is the key here. Notice what it feels like to be in your body. Notice if you can get in touch with being, beauty, and belonging.
- During the work day, invite a walking meeting with a colleague and tap into being, belonging, and beauty.
- Practice yoga or Chi-gong outside and stay in touch with the physical sensations of your body, but also be connected to the nature you are swimming and flowing in.
In the US, there have been some political decisions that don’t feel very considerate or wise in regard to how we are being good stewards of the earth. My hope is that the more we can appreciate and savor nature, the more we will fight to protect it.
I would love to hear how these practices go for you. Please post your replies under this post on the LivingWellAwake Facebook page.