By Berenice Boxler.
Winter is over, the first buds have been searching for a way out in the warm days of February. The end of the cold season is always an invitation: an invitation to notice the blooming of life, to observe the growth of plants and flowers, to look at the changing greens of the grass, to greet the morning light. It‘s not that winter is unwanted or less valuable. But spring makes it easier to wake up to life.
"Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest on it. How still they are, how deeply rooted they are in being. Let nature teach you the silence.“ Eckhart Tolle
What nature teaches us
In observing and perceiving nature, so much can be learned.
- Impermanence of life: The weather changes, the flowers grow, the trees sprout. Human life, too, is constantly changing, and our bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings have as the only constant their impermanence. This can sometimes create a sense of anxiety or stress, knowing that nothing lasts forever and that, eventually, everything has to end at one point. However, nature show us the beauty of change and can smooth the way to accepting: Life is changing. No moment is like the other, no feeling lasts forever, and also thoughts come and go (if we let them) like the clouds in the sky.
- Patience: The meditation teacher Jack Kornfield once said, „You cannot grow carrots faster by pulling on them“. Nature follows its own laws of growth and decay, and we can only watch and wait patiently. As much as we wish it was summer, vacation, the big party, graduation ... we can‘t control time. The moment is just the moment, and our mind can form the nicest caprices and lose itself in wishful thinking, but it will not go any faster. We may try to distract ourselves, to cover up this inner restlessness, to stay busy, we cannot change the way of life. The practice of patience is a very helpful and deeply calming one. The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson says: "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.“
- Trust: Closely connected to patience is a sense of trust in the nature of things. When we exercise patience, we strengthen our trust in ourselves and our environment. Eventually leaves will be on the trees again. Eventually it will get warmer. Eventually the holiday will start. With this knowing, grown from experience, knowledge and deep insight into the course of life and the guarantee of change, life can become much more at ease and more satisfying. It also gives us confidence that we can be with this time of transition and can live with patience and awaken curiosity – without waiting for something to arrive. Now is good enough.
- Joy of Life: It can be very enriching and fulfilling to watch nature blossom. A walk in the woods, a deliberate view of the treetops, special care for the houseplant, an awakening for the twittering of birds – there is so much to discover when we open our senses. Opening the eyes again and again, widening the gaze (and releasing it from the square technical devices in front of us), letting the silence of nature affect us. Many studies prove the calming effect of nature on the state of the human mind.
A mindful walk in nature is nourishing for our body and mind. This could be a good moment to go for a long walk using your beginner's mind. In our seasonal retreats we offer guided walks involving all the senses in beautiful surroundings. You can find out more about our upcoming retreats here.