by Guest Blogger India Baker.
Recently I attended a magical primitive skills workshop. It was intended primarily to teach (in this case) women what is now called “survival skills” We learned shelter building, fire building, cooking with utensils found in nature, and lastly but I think most importantly: awareness in nature.
Our instructor discussed the effects of nature deficit on society and how many of his students are not comfortable walking around in nature. We did exercises to focus on each of the senses to help us tune into the natural world around us.
Then I thought about the way I walked about in nature when I was a child. Nature was just somewhere outdoors. It was not an epic trip with lots of equipment, it was just going outside. I remember walking around my southern California neighborhood one winter morning when everyone in my family was bedridden due to the flu. It was pouring rain - that alone made it a special day- I walked around looking at trees dripping with water - and it seemed I knew every tree in every yard in my neighborhood - and watching the rivers of water wash down the roads and pour off the hillsides in torrents. I had found a connection with nature in an average neighborhood with paved roads and sidewalks!
This is how practicing a connection with Nature begins: you practice the simple, personal connection, then you develop it and take it with you to the moments you are away from it: in traffic, in a meeting, in your living room. For so many people in this fast paced world, the idea of developing spiritually somehow amounts to burdensome task to take on in an already busy life. Stepping into nature is a pleasant and simple way to take a first step into spiritual practice or to effortlessly renew that connection for the practiced-but-weary.
Finding a safe and inspiring place to spend a few, or many, moment to reflect and meditate does not require a trek to the wilderness. Though total immersion can have profound effects for those wanting to deepen their practice, the universe provides sanctuary in parks, your garden, even looking out of a well-positioned open window where the sun, breeze and bird song can touch you.
Practicing mindfulness in Nature is an essential “survival skill” in a hectic and challenging world.
India Baker is a shamanic practitioner and Registered Maine Guide who practices in Bethel, Maine.