It’s time. Time for simplicity. Time for practicality. No heady essay here. Mostly. Until the end. Sorry in advance. Or sorry for the rest of it if simplicity isn’t your thing.
… ahem …
What comes to mind when you think of communing with Nature? Does it involving sitting quietly under a tree deep in the woods, pretending mosquitos aren’t bothering you? Is it gazing at the clouds drifting by, lost in imagination, and then later reasoning that the imagined was real because it felt better than turning on the news? Is it something expensive that you have to plan for, a weekend retreat? If you have to leave home, are you communing with Nature in any lasting way?
The Dalai Lama recommends meditating in New York City, not a quiet cave in the mountains. That’s cheating, the cave is. If you can meditate in New York, you can meditate anywhere, to turn a phrase from Ol’ Blue Eyes. So, what can we do, simply do, all of us, country and city dwellers alike, to foster communing with Nature?
Lehua Lopez recommends eating only local foods and sitting outside where you live. Listen to your immediate surroundings, don’t go on far away retreats. To which I add (or extrapolate is more like it), perhaps there is an information exchange in addition to the nutrients being given by organisms-turned-food. Perhaps we can better integrate with or, to an extent, become our environment in a functional way, not just through a “knowing” or a “oneness” experience.
Tiokasin Ghosthorse says that crops teach the Lakota the proper songs to play that will help them grow. Furthermore, they are such specific notes that, for example, a corn crop in one region might not recognize the song of a corn crop from another and thus will not grow to it.
How do we learn to listen? How do we have meaningful relationships with crops? Perhaps being thankful plays a role. Not just ingesting corn but really thanking the corn for its life and asking what we can do to help it grow. Asking with openness and honesty—with naivety— so that we feel the feeling of Truth radiating through the body from the gut. This is coming from heart, not head, and if communication is to take place it will take place here, in this place of deep, living language. If we feel stupid, that’s only us coming from head with an answer: “This is stupid” or “I’m stupid” or “I feel dumb.” Those are all brain-self seizing power, closing off to its necessary demise in heart.
If you want to farm or are farming already, plant heirloom seeds. This way you know they are not GMO zombies. Plant local crops, if it makes sense to do that. And experiment with companion planting. See what plants like to grow next to each other and which do not. Plants have preferences.
Need medicine? Look for portents in Nature. There is a fractal connection between the physical look of a plant and its healthful benefits for us. (Obviously don’t start with plants and roots you don’t know as they may be poisonous!)
Does that tree over there need medicine? Learn to perform Reiki or some other form of energy healing brain-self cannot prove is real. Perform it with that tree.
On that note, ask Nature what you can do to help foster life. See if an answer or two don’t come by way of vision, a laugh and a smile that are not yours alone, or, less drastically but no less potent, synchronicities that lead you to an answer.
This is not a complete list of actions we may take to commune with Nature by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a start. Remember: the want to leave where you are and go somewhere else to meditate is the want to not meditate. If you feel the need to go somewhere else to understand internal silence then you will never understand it. It’s not a vacation from yourself, this silence. It’s not only found out in Nature or away from the bright lights and big noises of the city. Joyful though it may be, sitting in natural, soothing environments as a getaway isn’t communing with Nature. Getting away is all about relieving our burdens, yes? Not getting right with our environment (or our bodies, for that matter. which are also environments.)
Nature retreats disguised as spiritual retreats are defeatist. Heck, the term even has the word “retreat” built right in there. It’s like taking a vacation from war for a peaceful weekend because conflict is your life and peace is a place you visit. It’s time to flip the script. Let us make peace at home as we make peace with home. And let us do so actively, not just with silence. Silence, certainly. But not strictly for our benefit. Silence that contains the asking, “What can I do for you?” Silence from which springs Nature’s answer, not our own.
This is the beginning of selflessness, which benefits all.