I was walking the land we live on, which is something I do on a fairly regular basis. Oh, I have my regular sit spot where I go just to be still and observe the landscape, both inner and outer, but walking the land is a different exercise. When I am walking, I am checking to see what is happening in the natural world as I move through it. Where has the fox decided to den this year? What birds are nesting in which trees? How much fresh pitch is flowing from the pine trees? What herbs and flowers are blooming? Are our beehives getting ready to swarm? I’m slowly moving along with mindful awareness, open to experience.
It took many years for me to be able to do this. It seems like such a simple thing to just walk and be present. But is it really? The mind is constantly clambering, and shoving every distraction it can come up with, into our consciousness. What should I make for dinner? I wonder what’s going on at work. Is so and so angry with me because I said such and such? Did I forget to turn off the gas in the forge? You get the picture – our mind, our most powerful tool, can also be our greatest bewilderment.
Mindfully paying attention on purpose, in the present moment with curiosity, is no easy task. Our world is overfull of information coming at us as in a constant barrage of sound and image from television, social media, and radio. Ads scream for attention, memes look for likes and shares, and soundbites try to draw us in. We are served an endless litany that drives want and desire. It’s easy to get pulled in and to lose sight of what is actually important. A few months ago, I made the decision to button up my social media account. I maximized all my privacy settings and turned off the notifications. At first, it was kind of distressing to not be in constant contact to that which I’d become accustomed. It was a big change.
Not spending so much time on my phone or tablet has reminded me of many things. Years ago, I received a teaching that said experience is not twice given. Something does not happen out there and then again inside of us where it is processed. Our lived experience happens externally and internally at the same time. We and the natural world are born afresh together as one in every moment. What a beautiful gift. We don’t create our own reality. Reality occurs where perception meets perspective. It is where what we are looking at meets where we are looking from.
When we look from our authenticity without bypassing, something magical happens. We see the abundance of our being. All the parts that we have shoved away as being without merit are revealed as the gems that they truly are. When we say every part of me is welcome here, our perspective changes. The weight of expectation shifts, and we are able to have our experiences rather than collect them. This is a big distinction. When we interact with nature as nature, we are being our truest self.
A couple months ago Jonathan Hammond gave us an incredible piece. In it he described how honoring our inner truth and authenticity makes us "dangerous". This really resonated for me. Looking around at the constructed modern world, there is little space for us to just be a unique spark of the universe learning about itself through play. The time for each of us to be just that is here. Now, please take the time to head out into the natural world wherever that is for you and sit, walk, notice, and be openly curious.
I would leave you with a quote from Martin Shaw. I think it mirrors what Jonathan said, "No more tame language about wild things".
From my heart to yours,
Christopher T. Franza, OMEC Board of Directors