CONNECTING TO SELF THROUGH NATURE AND MINDFULNESS:

Creating Change with Meaning and Purpose and Learning to Let Go Of Unhealthy Behaviors

In This Blog Activities for Living a Richer Life Based on the Autumnal Equinox

  • Understanding and Applying Seasons for Change and Growth
  • Experiencing Nature Through Our Higher Self for Greater Understanding
  • Riding the Waves of Our Behaviors
  • Finding a Process for Change   

fall-leaves

THE GIFT OF NATURE: 
Understanding and Applying Seasons for Change and Growth

The GIFT of nature is the feeling of being more alive, more expansive…living fully through our senses.  This exchange and interplay between our senses and nature allows us to come back home to ourselves.  That natural part of ourselves that feels the connection with our surroundings.  When we allow ourselves to connect with our surroundings we get out of the way, letting our original nature come forth.  Experiencing our ORIGINAL NATURE, and living from it at the core, leaves no room for judgement towards ourselves or others.  The guidelines, expectations, criticisms, and standards melt away into a whisper until finally silenced into a state of stillness…the very act of being. 

 
So often we know what happens when our NATURAL CONNECTION to ourselves is stifled, silenced or banned.  Either self-imposed or by others it leaves the scars of depression, the grief of a self lost, or the stifled cries of anger and hurt over never being seen or felt.   We know what happens when nature is destroyed, whether in one fell swoop, or slowly over time like erosion.   What happens outward happens within.  We see these emotions reflecting in our behaviors, knowing we are cutting through the very roots that support us yet knowing no other way.  We would never force a tree to be an eagle or crane to be a fish, yet to ourselves we confine, contort, and configure ourselves to fit into something that is farther from our own truth than a boulder is to the wind.   Our connection to our natural surroundings allows our natural self the desire to be SEEN, FELT and HEARD.  It begs the opportunity and desire to be fed and nurtured.  This desire to JUST BE…to be our respective nature and to be respected for it.
 
A human being has as much claim to their natural self as does the tree, a flowing river, and the wild rose.  When we live from our original nature, grounded and centered, there is no more striving, no more struggle.  The gift of nature is becoming aware of its patterns and in turn becoming aware of our own.  Imagine trying to stop the flow of a river or trying to make it flow faster.  When we stop fighting against or forcing our own nature we discover more time, recognize opportunities, and draw upon the momentum while creating NEW PATHWAYS for self-expression.
 
We are often conditioned and trained to dominate this expression instead of following the natural rhythms of mind and body – to use force against force.  Instead of NATURAL RHYTHMS, such as the cycles of days and seasons, we live according to deadlines and timetables.  When we connect with nature and listen within we awaken an intelligence. We enhance the mind’s ability and spirit’s potential.  The way to SPIRIT is connecting with nature…. awakening not just an intelligence, but a creativity unique unto itself.  The stronger connection we have with nature, the greater the possibility to know ourselves.
 
The greatest gift of nature is RESTORING OUR SENSES…shifting from fear to love and how we sense ourselves and the world through focusing on each sensory input.  Using nature and the season for moment to moment AWARENESS we understand our own life stages and changes.
 
As we continue through the season of Autumn we can reflect on the meaning it provides in the context of our own lives.  Emotionally it is the element of metal, with the greatest challenges being grief, needing to control, and holding on.  We transform grief by letting go, the need to control by trusting in a TRUTH greater than us, and holding on with the wisdom to know what is necessary for our own unique path.  In nature, we find our balance.  We are reminded, as the trees shed their leaves, that it is a time of letting go and releasing that which no longer serves our higher good.   And as the leaves fall the bare branches remind us of the fleeting nature of all things – bringing us into a state of gratitude and appreciation. And finally, as day and night become more equal in length, this signals the time for balance and harmony. As we take this opportunity to connect with ourselves through nature and the seasons of change set the intention in the following activity to:
 
LET GO
FEEL APPRECIATION
CREATE BALANCE AND HARMONY

rred-winged-blackbird

CONNECTING TO NATURE THROUGH OUR SENSES: 
Experiencing Nature Through Our Higher Self for Greater Understanding
We experience life through our senses, in this ACTIVITY use your senses to 
connect with nature, and in turn, your Greater Self. 
The greatest truth to the above themes lies, once again, in our connection with nature.  We go back to what we know, restoring our senses and re-shifting how we sense ourselves in the world.  As in nature, within ourselves is wisdom, insight, and intuitive intelligence.
 
Whether at a park, your backyard, looking out the window…or even looking at a beautiful scene
within a painting or picture…
  • Allow your senses to be fully present and alive.  Take three conscious BREATHS as a natural entry into the body.  Bringing your awareness to fill the whole body.  Imagine your body as a field of sensations, feeling the quality and movement of these sensations.  Feel three sensations in the body – ie: cold, warmth, tingling…
  • Next, open your awareness to the symphony of SOUNDS around you.  Listen to the changing play of sounds, not just with your ears but your whole awareness.  Bring an open listening to three sounds in your environment – ie: birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind, silence…
  • Then let your awareness receive the images around you, attend to the sense of SEEING noticing three sights in your awareness.  See not only with your eyes but your whole awareness – ie: the depth and layers of blue in the sky, the clouds resting behind the trees, a bird taking flight…
  • Be receptive to any SCENTS in the air.  Be receptive to three smells floating on the air around you.  Smell not only with the nose but with your whole awareness – ie: decaying leaves, pine, soil and Earth…
  • Finally, FEEL the contact between the environment and you.  Feeling not just with touch and contact but with your whole awareness – ie: the breeze on your cheek, the warmth of your clothes touching your skin, your feet connecting to the Earth and ground beneath you…
  • Let your senses be wide open, relaxed and receptive.  Allow LIFE to flow freely through you…a moment to moment experience.  Appreciate this awake, inner space of presence, of feeling at home with yourself.  Sense the possibility of being alert with open awareness.  This opens us to our higher intelligence, the same intelligence that creates the mighty oak from an acorn.  A flow of awareness, understanding, and intuition when mind, body, and heart are fully aligned and coherent.
This is how we experience life, by anchoring in our senses and COMING HOME to our true nature and higher intelligence. When it becomes too uncomfortable; whether memories flooding the mind or pain disturbing the body – when distractions and habit seem the only option –  use it as an opportunity to see beyond into a place of healing and recovery.  There are ways to love the moment, especially in this season of change. 
 
Begin, step by step, to heal the past.  Mindful walking is especially helpful to hold the experiences.
Read, watch and listen to programs that inspire and motivate.
Let go and clear beliefs that no longer serve your higher good through mentoring. 
PERSEVERANCE, WILLINGNESS, INTENTION, AND PATIENCE BECOME THE PRACTICE.  
WHEN TAKEN TO NATURE IT BECOMES TRANSFORMING.

kayak

FEELING THE SHIFT
 
BREATH  After yet another great shift in life, and the feeling of resistance, I took to nature to find peace.  For several days I kayaked, watching the season change from summer to fall.  Observing the natural environment to find peace with mine.  The steady breathing with each paddle became the natural entryway into the moment and experience.  The breath finding a rhythm with the current and waves.  Adjusting moment to moment with exertion and rest and the play in-between.  Finding balance and harmony in the inhale and exhale, and the moment of pause between each – a point of stillness.
SOUND  What at first sounded like quiet was a chorus of birds communicating between the trees.  I started listening to each individual call until it felt as though they were singing in unison.   The sound of leaves falling from the trees, a sound I had never noticed before.  Each one making its final song as it descended to become one with the water.  The sound of the breeze as it grew in intensity, whistling through the trees and over the water.
SIGHT  Colors became more vivid as I let go of distraction and brought awareness to those that spoke the loudest, needing to communicate what I couldn’t see.  The play of color in the water and sky.  Aqua, the color of peace and calm.  Blue, the color of healing. Sapphire, the color of regeneration.  The clouds with different layers of white and gray.  White for lightening up and gray being the ray to identify blocks in life.  A leaf floating on the water with reds, browns, and greens.   Red for freedom, brown for establishing boundaries, and green to revitalize the nervous system.  I became receptive to these qualities and saw their influence and necessity in a time of change.
SMELL  With deeper breathing came the smells floating on the breeze.  The dampness of the earth and leaves decaying.   The refreshing smell of pine.  The crisp clean smell of the water.  Each smell lending to memories that flooded my mind and then washed away to a feeling of being refreshed and revitalized.
TOUCH  The breeze, at times, becoming strong enough to call wind.  Feeling the sting of cold with pockets of warm air, how both came together to create weather patterns.  My hands dangling in the water feeling the sensation of weightlessness.  My entire body feeling supported by the water, at times overwhelming, yet exhilarating in greater depths and tranquil closer to the shore. My need for security and protection.
INSIGHT  Nature itself providing direct meaning and offerings through the crane (representing longevity), the red winged blackbird (change), the deer (gentleness), the beech tree (sustenance), the maple tree (versatility), and the willow tree (harmony and respect).  The meanings offering tools and insights to weather through this season with grace and ease.

Bringing all these qualities to the experience of change, the sensations risings to the surface and rippling away until coming to a place of stillness.  Noticing the qualities of floating and drifting with the natural current of water instead of pushing and striving against it.  The need for balance and harmony in all that we do.  Understanding and feeling the experience of letting go, finding gratitude in the experience, and peace in the lessons learned.   Moving from the anxiety of separation to a feeling of connection…some experiences timeless and without words.


waves

RIDING THE WAVE OF OUR BEHAVIORS AND FINDING A PROCESS FOR CHANGE

With several weeks left in Fall continue to ground and center in the heart 
and allow your experiences to flow with the season. 
Letting Go
  • Do we let go of harsh judgments and bring in love?
  • Do we let go of relationships that no longer server our higher good and call upon respect? 
  • Do we let go of standards, rules and recommendations and listen to the higher intelligence within? 
  • Do we let go of things that no longer bring us joy and invite space in for new creation?
Appreciation
  • Do we find gratitude in how the body supports our goals every day?
  • Do we give thanks when we have food, shelter, safety and protection?
  • Do we give thanks for the simple things that carry and support us throughout the day?
  • Do we give thanks for our breath that sustains life?
Balance and Harmony
  • Do we honor ourselves by listening to cues our bodies provide with hunger, pain, and the need to rest…supporting our most exhausted and stressed selves?
  • Do we create healthy boundaries to honor our own needs so we can honor others?
  • Do we live in moderation respecting our mind, body, heart and environment?
  • Do we listen to our own heart’s intelligence in the choices and decisions we make?

Having awareness and being mindful allows us to live in the heart’s intelligence and live according to what matters most.  It gives us the opportunity to “surf the urge” of our habits, choices, and reactions to seek greater meaning and growth with acceptance.  When we are flooded with overwhelm, worry, or react in old patterns pay close attention, as we do in nature, without trying to change it or get rid of it.  Instead of distracting from the urge or hoping it will just go away ride it like a wave – not fighting it or giving in.  It will build with intensity, but ultimately crash and dissolve.   When we sense the wave coming pause (as in nature), accept it, and be curious with open awareness.  What does it feel like?  Where do you feel it in the body?  How is the breath? What thoughts, feelings and sensations arise?  Let them all ripple away as we did when we connected with nature through our senses. 

 
Riding the wave and surfing the urge will work with any impulse from worrying to complaining to eating.  Like in nature we give up the rigid attempts to control our inner experience.  We allow, accept, and observe our behaviors and heal with UNDERSTANDING, COMPASSION, and GRATITUDE.
 
As we continue doing the above we fully change with each season and stage of life and circumstances preparing for what comes next with a light heart, steady mind, and healthy body. With a few remaining weeks in Fall lets cherish it for its greater meaning and lessons.  Continue to find harmony in our senses while engaged in nature and allow the experience to ground and center us for positive change.  
 
This will prepare us for Winter, the element of water with the challenging emotion of fear.  It calls us to move into courage and trust.  It is the start of the seasonal cycle, a time for quiet reflection and dreaming.   It is the time for hope.  In my next seasonal blog, we find ways to connect with Winter for growth and enrichment.  
UNTIL THEN LET GO, BREATHE, AND APPRECIATE

green_leaves-Marisha Schmidt M.A.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I use nature as a way to promote personal growth and healing, focusing on the energetic imprint we leave behind with ourselves and the environment.  I teach and offer a variety of practices, with theory and application (browse my website at  www.marishahealth.coach) to assist in creating a natural alignment and connection with our Greater Self to promote health and well being.  For seasonal practices, health tips, nutrition recommendations and mentoring (small group and individual sessions) please contact me at www.marishahealth@gmail.com.