Observing the Land

“Nature is the teacher. The landscape is the textbook.”  – Masanobu Fukuoka, The One Straw Revolution

Spending time outside everyday is vital to our livelihoods.  Breathing in fresh air, feeling the sun on our skin and smelling the natural world around us softens the deepest parts of ourselves.  Connecting loosens our rigid bodies from stress and rids our scattered minds of “what if’s” and “to do lists”.  One deep breath draws us into the present.  We no longer seek anything.  We do however find what we had been looking for all along.  Magic.

There are a few ways to observe our natural surroundings.  Sorry, what I meant to say is that there are an unlimited amount of ways to experience our natural surroundings.  By observing with our six senses (YES six and if you really want to get spiritual there are considered TEN)  we can connect to our surroundings with greater awareness. Let me quickly state what these senses are: Smell, Touch, Taste, Sight, Sound and Intuition.

When we un-focus our eyes it helps us to observe shadows and light.  To sit with the land at dawn, allows us to connect with a piece of this world that usually swims in a sea of mechanical noise pollution.   At the earliest part of the morning, when the modern world is quiet, the natural world is buzzing with activity.  I once sat by myself in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains between the hours of 3am-6am.  A group of us had gone out on a field trip to observe the natural landscape.  At first I was scared.  I curled up like a little girl and sat in a pocket, naturally carved into the trunk of a large maple tree.  My eyes were wide, ears alert and body frozen.  I am sure everything in that forest heard my heartbeat.   I’m going to have to say that those young hearted addictions to horror movies with older cousins proved to be the worst thing to do for my head.  My mind raced with childish fears of the boogie man and ravaged wolves.  I LOVE wolves.

The dark scared me.  It was unknown, mysterious, and…. well,  BLACK.  I couldn’t find color, no matter how hard I searched and after I accepted the fact that I needed to conduct my assignment, connecting and observing the land, my mind shut off and my senses came awake.  Because my eyes proved useless in that black, colorless world,  my sense of sound and touch thrived.   The air was moist and cold, I became knitted into the fabric of the untouched, the perfect world, where humans did not exist. Except for myself of course.   Dew drops formed on my rain jacket and soaked into my wool hat.  My boots dug further into the rich ground and leaves covered my journal and my legs.  I became part of the landscape and with my immersion,  all the little critters and animals considered me part of their home.

My interaction with the mountains became more than what I thought it would become, an outside foreign experience. I had become the landscape.  Squirrels and birds landed beside me, spiders, worms, and centipedes crawled over my hands and arms.   I wasn’t afraid of what was out there anymore because I became the “out there” and “out there” became “in here”.

When we get down into the Earth, when we shut off our minds and open up our hearts “we” become “them” and “they” become “us”.  There is no separation between human beings and the natural world.  You will find me stating this again and again.  Let me repeat.  Separation is an illusion that our minds do an incredible job at conveying.  I invite you to sit in the mud, bathe in the river, and share yourself with nature.

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