The Spirit of Nature Walking
The natural world is full of spiritual symbolism. When we have the ears to hear, it whispers the truths that we have forgotten. When we have eyes to see, it illuminates the purpose that we have neglected. Within the natural world, as within all things, there is a spark. This spark is the essence of the Divine; and when we know how to look, this spark can guide us back to the light of awareness.
Mother nature, in her own unique way, is a flagship on our spiritual journey. No matter how fierce the storm, she remains steady and true; always offering up the knowledge we need without charge. Uncolored by the egos of men, she can show us in her green leaves, blue skies, and clear waters what we cannot see within ourselves. It is for this reason that nature walking, also known as forest bathing, can be such an exhilarating and enlightening spiritual practice.
Nature walking as a spiritual practice is the act of communing with nature; it is to open up your soul to the natural world and to listen closely, as a pupil to her teacher, as she opens up hers in return. And as we let down our guard and open the eyes of the spirit, we can see the face of God written across her form.
Truly, it is not nature herself who speaks but the essence of the Divine within her. Just as the energy of God moves through us when we allow it, so does it move through nature. Because she has no distorting ego or limiting mind, the message that comes through is constant; and it is always precisely what we need at precisely the right moment.
If you are interested in using nature walking as a spiritual practice, the first step is to find an area that is sufficiently wild. The more untamed the environment, the more clear the message tends to come across. Once you have selected your area, start off like you’re on a casual stroll. Let your pace slow as you take notice of the organic world around you. Allow your body and mind to naturally harmonize with the rhythm of this environment - notice as your heart rate decreases, your breathing becomes deeper and fuller, your thoughts slow, and your pace evens.
The longer that you remain in this natural setting, the more your body will naturally harmonize. The stress that you carry will fall from you like dead leaves from a tree. The thoughts that normally haunt you will sweep by as if riding a river current; and the emotions that cause you turmoil will be like a feather on the wind. These inner changes prepare you to take in the message that she has for you.
Take a few moments to focus in on individual details in the landscape. Perhaps you notice the song of a bird nearby or you observe the intricate details of a flower petal or leaf. Allow your mind to wander on the subject of your observation. Think about the way that such a small creature can create such magnificent sound; or consider the processes involved in the development of each petal of the flower. Allow yourself to feel pulled into that natural element. Consider and appreciate how they have such complexities and yet remain so simple.
Follow this process of observation and appreciation with numerous natural elements. Then span your awareness outwards to take in the whole picture. Observe how so many of those small pieces together form a large, complex, and interconnected whole. Notice that you too play a part in that whole.
As you continue to explore the natural world, try to look with your heart instead of your head. This will help you open the channel for the Divine energy to flow in and through you. As you open up on the inside, you will notice that the beauty of nature is also the beauty within you. The peace that can be found in a deep forest dwells in the core of your being. The beauty of crystalline waters rolling over refined river stones also flows inside of you. The weave of harmony on display in nature also has its threads running through you. It is through this mirroring that your messages will become clear and they will be perfectly suited for the very moment that you are in. You will find symbolism in the tiniest twig as well as the oldest trees; her messages never run dry.
The more frequently you practice nature walking, the more quickly you will align with the environment and the more clearly you will receive its messages. With practice, you will reap the long term rewards of a healthier heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and better circulation as well as the less visible but just as important mental, emotional, and spiritual changes that guide you forward into greater awareness, deeper peace, and more happiness. A walk in the woods, a stop by the ocean, or a stroll down the river could be all it takes to step into the next level of your spiritual awareness; give Mother Nature your time and she will give you her heart.
© 2015 Cristen Rodgers
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