This past week has certainly been like no other that I have ever witnessed or experienced. The siege on our nation’s capitol building was shocking and saddening to witness and certainly foreign to those of us that live in the US.
After watching the news most of that evening I awoke the following morning feeling very ungrounded and weighed down. I had an overwhelming visceral need to get outside and into the cold crisp New England air and get myself into the woods. I didn’t realize that this impulse was actually a deep call from within my being to right itself after having been thrown off kilter.
Hiking in the woods felt refreshing. Breathing and taking in the air and the wooded landscape seemed to wash away my worries and draw me back into my rightful place – a place of presence or as Eckhart Tolle’ would say, “the now.”
I realized once I felt this shift that I had been absorbed, without knowing it, into a projection about the future. My thoughts created a possible reality that was scary and anxiety provoking and when I connected to nature it felt like a natural antidote. I felt I could breathe more easily as I walked along the rocky paths.
The birds, squirrels, deer and even my cats are always ever just present taking one moment at a time. It’s so powerful for me to come upstairs after watching all the disruption on TV and look at my cat as peaceful as ever lying on the bed. When I approach her and scratch her behind the ears I am aware of her purring loudly without a care in the world. What an interesting paradox that such peace and such disruption can seem to exist simultaneously. The simplicity of taking in her stillness, peace and presence brought me face to face with my own utter lack of presence and in that moment I was aware. It was as if that awareness could chip away at my anxious feelings pulling me back into myself. Her presence had an immediate impact on me and receiving this felt like a gift.
I notice that the more I am focused on being and presence the more and more I receive nudges from my world reminding me of my true center. We can’t completely shut out world events, nor should we, but noticing when have been impacted is the first step in shifting. The more I practice becoming present intentionally the more I notice when I have been thrown off and vice versa. Receiving intuitive signals from the world help me to rebalance in a natural and automatic way making me able to open all of life with much greater ease and grace.
Our hearts are certainly complex and capable of opening and embracing the most unexpected dualities and differences. The heart will feel what it feels even when it is not convenient and doesn’t look good on paper. It can inspire us to become better human beings when we dig deep and have the capacity to forgive what is seen as unforgivable. It has the capacity to heal us by opening up even after it has been broken or start over when it seems that all has been lost. It can find a path through adversity where our thinking mind would be rendered useless. Love, compassion and empathy can flow freely through the heart where the mind would be calculating and planning to see what makes the most sense.
The best way is to make use of both the mind and the heart. Most of us are skewed and rely heavily on our rational, logical thinking and don’t balance it with the wisdom and perspective that is available to us from our hearts. Bowing the head to the heart in a symbolic act of surrender to love and openness can feel like a leap of faith. It might even feel scary and foreign in certain situations. What do you have to loose? You can put your boundary back in place if need be but how often do you consciously take the walls down and open up? Try approaching something with kindness instead of judgement or criticism and see how it works. I have witnessed kindness, openness and love completely disarm and transform the most difficult and complex situations.
Without being open and loving to ourselves first it is not possible to offer this to others. We can only be open and loving to others to the extent that we have offered this to ourselves.
Collectively we are being called to go deeper into our hearts and learn how to live from its center. It is our only hope if we are to overcome the division that is currently so common place in the world. Meeting life with the mind connected to the heart begins as an inner journey and extends beyond our personal lives touching all who we come into contact with.
I’m driving and suddenly I notice lots of lawn signs popping up everywhere lining the streets in front of Mc Donald’s and by office buildings. Empathy, compassion, love, healing , thank you. Do we need to be reminded? Have we forgotten or lost touch with our true nature because life has just been too chaotic? Have worries, Amazon, smart phones, work and the political environment numbed us out? Has it overshadowed the essential truth that all human beings want and need the same things? We must need reminding.
These are qualities that should flow freely in a person that isn’t stressed out, fearful or feeling compromised in some way. We are so caught up that we are not able to focus on what connects us all.
It seems that compassion and a loving presence don’t just emanate from us effortlessly especially right now. We can, however, consciously decide the kind of presence we wish to be in the world and choose it over and over again. It will become hardwired into our very psyche and nervous system as we unplug from what we have grown accustomed to. Remembering the true qualities that we all share can awaken their power as we consciously lean into them over and over again. It is the brave heart, the warrior heart that will choose this path.
Remembering that there is power in right action and fall in love with this state without expectations and conditions because life doesn’t work that way. The universe works in mysterious ways that we will never fully comprehend. It’s a letting go, a surrender, a falling into the abyss and trusting a power greater than ourselves brought all this into existence. Letting go of the need to arm ourselves against life and instead trust life. The source of life has your back and will be there with the power of the universe behind it. It’s time to be the change we wish to see in the world. It’s time to remember who we really are.
I often walk in the morning and am stunned by the consciousness that abounds in nature and the lessons that can be gleaned by one who is paying attention. Natures communication is subtle and usually speaks to me through my intuition. I know this because often strong feelings are inspired and when I take the time to be with these feelings often they speak volumes to me. Recently I wrote about my sunflowers in a blog called A Sunflower Taught me about Overcoming Adversity. You can read it here.
For my whole life nature has spoken to me although I didn’t always know it. I’ve always known that nothing that comes into my awareness is wasted and that the universe uses every opportunity to teach and inspire me.
Trees are awesome teachers that possess great strength, stillness, resiliency, connection, goundedness, beauty and resolve. These are just a few of the adjectives that come to me off the top of my head but I’m sure you can add your own to describe your favorite tree.
After hurricane Isaias the messages from nature were coming to me loudly and I would pass many downed trees during my daily walk. When I stopped to pay homage to these giants that had given way and were broken or pulled up from their roots I was stunned to feel great resolve and strength. When I stood with the tree to sense more deeply I felt none of the emotions of sadness or loss that I felt but a knowing that its life was not over because its visible form was gone. It’s as if the tree was trying to convey to me that it knew what was coming and that the wind sent a warning through its system but being a tree it knew there was nothing to “do.” The tree had no choice but to continue standing in its lifelong spot and weather the storm taking whatever mother nature threw her way. The tree had to “be.” There was no fear for its future or memories from the past. There was only the present moment
When the wind gust pulled on the tree and the deep roots snapped there was no stopping it from going down. Down she fell taking the soil and power lines with her and darkening all the homes on her grid. It only seems right that such a magnificent being should have such an impact on us when her outer physical form comes crashing down.
The tree knew there was nothing to do and simply had to take what was coming. She did this with power and grace knowing that her outer form would be no more. Her deep, deep roots carry on with her connection to all the other tree beings and they still share information, nourishment and more wisdom than we can possibly know. You see the trees were here before us and they will surely out live us. They have seen a lot and weathered many storms and will carry on even when its outer form is severely damaged or compromised. And when the tree is completely uprooted and no longer visible to us still its life will continue.
Unlike humans, nature uses its interconnectedness to benefit all of life. The form of the tree has changed but still it continues in its vital role to all its neighbors.
I know this title may raise some eyebrows but it’s really true.As an amateur gardener I have had the pleasure of learning many lessons from my vegetable and flower garden most recently as a result of hurricane Isaias. (I still can’t pronounce this name!!)
In Early May our town was giving out free packets of sunflower seeds.They encouraged us to plant them as a way of uplifting our town during the Covid pandemic and seeing them would make us smile and brighten our day.I happily picked up my packet of 12 seeds and followed the planting directions carefully.
After a few weeks of caring for the spouts the day came to plant them outdoors.It felt like I was sending my children off to the first day of kindergarten.I placed them all carefully into their spots and then constructed a make-shift mini fence around each one.Can you tell what kind of parent I would have been?I watched them like a hawk everyday.Some faired better than others and 4 in particular shot up and had very strong thick stems and had the promise of turning into big flowers.
It took quite some time for them to grow to the point that they were ready to flower.Then comes hurricane Isaias.The wind was blowing so strong I could see them getting pummeledand I was very worried.I quickly threw on my shoes and raincoat and ran outside in an attempt to give them support with some tall bamboo rods. The wind was dangerously strongmaking it unsafe for me andI had no choice but to leave them on their own for the duration of the storm.
The next day I looked out my window and to my amazement all of the sunflowers in the front made it through the storm!Then I looked out my back window and two out of three had fallen on the ground; one was completely severed and the other was bent with a large gash in it’s stem. Naturally I assumed only one would survive.
Three days later I looked out the window again and the sunflower that was severely hurt and lying on the ground was still alive.To my joy and amazement its bud was still attempting to follow the sun.I ran outside to see if I could save it.The stem had a bad 8 inch split but I was able to support it with bamboo rods and a bandage. She stoodagain injured but proud!
I watched as the other sunflower next to her bloomed into a large bud attracting all the pollinators.I examined the bud up close and was stunned the the beauty of how mathematically perfect it was.The injured plant carried on but was developing more slowly and gradually.The familiar green bud appeared and then to my amazement I noticed not only was there one bud but there were 5 buds in total!!My injured plant was going to bloom more than any of the others! Wow!!
Not only is it true for plants that overcoming adversity and suffering helps them to open, strengthen and develop resiliency but it’s true for all living things.It was so beautiful, simple and powerful to watch the sunflower flourish despite having endured such a test.
I learned a lot from watching my sunflower.It wasn’t thinking about its struggle it was just engaged in a natural process called life.Life threw it a curve ball and it had no resistance and there was no need to process feelings or overcome past conditioning.It was tremendously reassuring for meto watch its progress and see that adversity and suffering is just a part of the natural unfolding of life for all living things. It’s not only natural but an essential part of life that helps us all to thrive and grow even stronger than we thought possible. Next time you have to weather a storm of your own be on the look out for the gifts you unexpectedly receive.