I know it's easy to believe that we need to go for a yoga retreat to "be in nature". But it's not true at all. We already are nature. Here's how.
A few years ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a caption that really did what it should - it CAPTivated me. The author of the post was talking about being with the "rest of nature". She was doing simple gardening which a lot of us probably assume to already be "super connected with nature". But no!
She was explaining how she was PART of nature, and was making a conscious choice to use expressions such as me and the rest of nature. She considered herself - and all beings - to be nature. Apparently this became a constant work of hers: always reminding herself that she and other human beings were not separate from nature.
In fact, we ARE nature
That's not an obvious statement, given we live in the modern world that thrives on us being separate from the rest of nature. Wouldn't you agree?
So why do I follow the steps to push for the expression "being with the rest of nature"?
Well, today turned out to be my day-off (can you imagine? A full day with zero official work, in the middle of the week? What even is life???? Just kidding, read this post on the importance of rest). Thus, I decided to spend some time with the rest of nature in an undisturbed way.
I hopped on my pink double-wheel cruiser, put on my helmet and cycled off to the nearest park. I was looking for a casually hidden nook, hoping I could sit and read a book without worrying about fulfilling some to-do list. Sounds peaceful, doesn't it?
But here's what happened instead.
As I was sitting on a pristine white thingy I brought from home not to get any ticks in my butt, I thought to myself, I am so disconnected.
I biked here to be "in nature".
I forgot I needed to be WITH nature, too.
So I closed my book. I looked up and you know what? Immediately I started noticing the sounds: smaller and bigger birds chirping away in harmony. I even saw one bringing food to their babies as those squealed for more. I listened to these distinct sounds. Ok ok, get this - I heard the WIND!
And then it hit me - ever since I closed the book, I felt calm and utterly present. Relaxed. Finally not alert. Physically recharged...
I was BEING nature
What? How? Being nature? Well, lemme take you through that beautiful encounter with myself (aka nature).
My fingertips touched the soil and I removed my shoes to feel it under my feet, too. I took a conscious breath in - AND SMELLED PINE TREES!
Just to be sure it wasn't my mind playing tricks - after all I was in the middle of a city park - I slowly inhaled again, paying all the attention I could to the air coming in through my nostrils. And sure enough, the scent of pines became even more obvious.
Ohhhh what a wonder it is to be WITH nature!!!
I knew then and there that I needed to touch the bark of a tree that looked like a giant armchair (notice my need to compare nature to non-animate objects?). While I was standing up to do so, I felt drawn to climb it. So I did. And it felt LIKE I WAS REBORN. No joke.
I was nature. I was one with the tree. We hugged.
Seriously, I totally felt the reciprocal nature of that hug. It worked like a charm. Suddenly, I knew exactly who I was. I knew what I wanted from this day-off. I knew that I got blessed and would be welcomed in the park - and on that tree - anytime. I needed to pay my respect, though. So I did. I formulated a short appreciation but even more so - I promised myself that I would write about the experience to share it with YOU.
Experiment with your connection to the rest of nature
We aren't separate from it. We are one. GOJA YOGA retreats always focus on this interdependent nature (pun unintended) of us and the rest of the world. That's one of the parts of yoga off the mat. If you're intrigued and would like to join us sometime, the June one is fully booked but you can join the waiting list for the first July one by visiting this link.
Oh and... here's a short video to bring these park images to your mind in case my words weren't enough :)
-- H O M E W O R K --
Get out there. Smell the trees. Touch their "coats". Say your respectful hellos, and gentle "see you laters". My mom taught me that when we went for a walk recently - I noticed her saying "thank you, see you later" as she was leaving the forest. I was MOVED. It felt so powerful to repeat those words after her. She didn't even know she taught me that, but her words and actions - and the book "Braiding sweetgrass" - have had an immense impact on my connection to the rest of nature.
So yes, get out there. Smell, touch, see, taste and feel nature. It's a privilege to be able to do it. Remember that.
PS at the end of your visit, say a short "thank you" and notice how that makes you feel :) Good luck, and have fun!