Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Messengers From The Wilderness

January 10, 2012

[ From DailyOM ]

A plant is a weed only within a certain context; one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.

Simply expressed, a weed is any plant that grows where it isn’t wanted. Weeds are defined by their tendency to flourish at the expense of a gardener’s overall vision, and we tend to battle their presence in our yards. It is interesting to consider, though, that a plant is a weed only within a certain context, which is to say that one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower. Most of us have pulled at least one dandelion up by its roots and disposed of it in the interest of preserving the look of a perfect green lawn, yet the dandelion is good medicine, packed with healing properties and vitamin-rich leaves that are a delicious, spicy surprise in a summer salad.

In the wild, there is no such thing as a weed because the overall vision is in the hands of Mother Nature, who accommodates and incorporates all forms of life. In nature, balance is achieved over the long term, without the aid, or interference, of a human supervisor. While one plant may prevail over others for a certain period of time, eventually it will reach an apex and then it will naturally decline, allowing for other forms to be born and survive. This self-regulating realm was the first garden of our ancestors, who learned the art of agriculture from studying the forests and fields of the as yet uncultivated earth. In a sense, weeds are harbingers of this wildness, pushing their way into our well-ordered plots, undermining more delicate flora, and flourishing in spite of us.

The next time you see a weed, you might want to look deeply into its roots, discover its name, its habits, and its possible uses. Instead of seeing an unwanted intruder, you might see a healer offering its leaves for a medicinal tea or its flowers for a colorful salad. At the very least, if you look long enough, you will see a messenger from the wilderness of Mother Earth, reminding you that, even in the most carefully controlled garden, she cannot be completely ruled out.

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The Body Is Natural

January 4, 2012

[ From DailyOM ]

So much of the human experience is removed from nature that we tend to forget that we are products of the natural world. At the moment of birth, we are perfectly attuned to nature. Our feelings are an authentic response to the stimulus we encounter. We interact with our environment viscerally, desiring only what is necessary for our survival. And, if we are lucky, we take in nourishment in the form of pure mother’s milk. As months and years pass, however, we discover the sights, sounds, and scents of the synthetic world. Though these often momentarily dazzle us, the dim memory of our naturalness remains. When we embrace the notion that human beings are inherently natural, bringing it to the forefront of our day-to-day experiences, we achieve a new level of wellness that boasts nature at its very core.

We innately understand that our bodies are not composed of plastics or man-made chemicals and that there is no legitimate reason to consume or expose ourselves bodily to such substances. This knowledge is reinforced each time we find ourselves energized by sweet, fresh air and warm sunlight or awed by the majesty of Mother Nature’s beauty. We feel the strength of our connection to nature when fresh food that is close to the earth sustains us more effectively than artificial supplements and when the pleasures of exercise outweigh the pains of exertion. The human body has been blessed with the same physical intuitiveness that all nonhuman living beings employ instinctively. But because our lives are no longer bound up in nature’s rhythms, we must actively seek to reconnect with this formerly innate skill. The process of rediscovering our place in the natural world can be exciting and inspiring, since nothing more is required of us than to delight in nature’s wonders, to derive nourishment from natural foods, and to drink deeply of all the wisdom that plants and animals have to share.

Your own naturalness will reveal itself to you when you look beyond your beliefs, your lifestyle choices, and the attitudes you hold. When these constructs are stripped away, you will see a body and mind that never gave up its relationship to the essence of the natural world from which consciousness sprang.

Open and Listening

November 29, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

When in nature we often forget we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender.

For better or worse, much of the world we experience is dominated and controlled by human beings. We spend our days in houses, cars, and buildings, and inside these structures, we are in control. We assert our wills and manipulate our environment. Within the context of the human world, this is natural. However, we often carry this attitude with us into the world of nature. We forget as we enter the forest, or sit on the edge of a pond, that we are moving into another realm, one that asks us to drop our baggage and surrender to a different sense of order and meaning.

When we move from our everyday world into the world of nature, we may not even notice at first. We might continue talking loudly into our cell phone or to a friend that is with us. We might walk quickly as if we are on a busy city street, our eyes downcast, our thoughts hectic and hurried. In the best case, if we are sensitive to our environment, we will soon notice that it has changed. We may hear ducks calling, or wind moving through the leaves on a tree. If we notice the shift, we will naturally shift as well. If we don’t, we may get all the way through a beautiful park without having lowered our voices. Next time you find yourself in the presence of wildlife even if it’s just a duck pond in the midst of urban hustle try to move into a receptive state of openness and listening, no matter how much or how little time you have. Allow yourself to be captivated and calmed by the energy of the wildlife that covers this earth. Teaching our children to be respectful of nature and to stop and observe is a gift they can always cherish

We preserve pockets of nature in our urban centers and large expanses of nature in our national parks because of the magic we feel in its presence. It reminds us of our smallness and calls us back to a deeper, quieter part of ourselves. When we honor nature by being respectful in its presence, we honor the mystery and wild beauty of our origin.

The Sun Is Always Shining

September 1, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

If darkness has fallen, we know that the sun is still shining at this very moment somewhere not too far away.

There are times when gloom or darkness causes us to momentarily lose sight of the light. Although it is at these times when the thought of the sun can help us. Its warm, glowing rays brighten even our thoughts, and it’s good to remember that despite appearances the sun is shining right now. We may not be able to see it at this very moment, but if clouds block our view, they are only filtering the sun’s light temporarily. If darkness has fallen, we know that the sun is still shining at this very moment somewhere not too far away, and it’s only a matter of time before it will shine on us again.

When we remember that the sun is still shining, we know that things are still in motion in the universe. Even if life feels like it is at a standstill, sometimes all we need to do is have faith and wait for the time when everything is in its perfect place. Or we can we can choose to follow the cues of the sun and continue doing our work and shining our light, even when we can’t yet see results. In doing so we exercise our patience, making sure we are prepared when opportunity knocks and all other elements are in their right and perfect places.

The sun also reminds us that our own shining truth is never extinguished. Our light shines within us at all times, no matter what else occurs around us. Though the sun gives us daily proof of its existence, sometimes our belief in our own light requires more time. If we think back, however, we can find moments when it showed itself and trust that we will see it again. Like the sun, our light is the energy that connects us to the movements of the universe and the cycles of life and is present at all times, whether we feel its glow or not.

人间好时节

August 5, 2011

春有百花秋有月,
夏有凉风冬有雪;
若无闲事挂心头,
便是人间好时节。

– 无门禅师

Spring has hundreds of blossoms,
Autumn has the (fullest) moon,
Summer has cooling breezes,
Winter has snow.
If there are no useless matters on the mind,
this is life’s good season.

– Zen Master Wumen

In the Open Air

June 22, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it.

In this modern age, we spend so much time indoors, focused on the busyness of our lives and disconnected from the earth. But much of what we truly need can only be found under the naked sky, alongside tall trees, on open plains, or in the sound of running water. Spending time in nature allows us to commune with other living beings and to find comfort in the nurturing embrace of Mother Earth. You can’t help but experience a different sense of self while walking in a wood or traversing a mountainside. Being in nature connects us to the earth, grounding us as we walk, unhindered by concrete, upon her.  Surrounded by other living beings, both bigger and smaller than we are, we remember that human beings are simply one form of life in this vast universe.

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it. Even if you live in a city or find it difficult to travel to a forest or the countryside, there are a myriad ways to reconnect with nature. When you step out of your door each morning, pause for a minute and close your eyes long enough to let your senses absorb your surroundings. Listen and breathe deeply, until you hear the wind rustling through branches, smell rain on damp grass, and see the reflection of leaves brushing up against windowpanes. If you have time, crouch down and closely examine any nearby grass and soil. The sights, sounds, smells, and sensations we experience that are part of nature can remind us of all the gifts Mother Earth grants us each day.

Spending time connecting with nature nourishes the soul, reminds you that you are never truly alone, and renews you by attuning you to the earth’s natural rhythms. Taking a walk under the stars or feeling the wind on your face may be all it takes for you to reconnect with nature. Remember, you are as much a part of nature as are the leaves on a tree or water bubbling in a brook.

Animals in Nature

May 2, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Animals in nature always have a message for us, start noticing what animals show up in your life and when.

Animals share our planet with us, but experience it differently—each has its own abilities and gifts that allow them to interact successfully with the natural world. Since we are merely one manifestation of the universe’s energy in action, when we feel the need for direction we can turn to animals in nature for guidance. Animals can show us different ways to approach and deal with our challenges.

As we hold a question in mind, we can begin to pay attention to the animal activity around us. Staring out a window we may notice a bird soaring high in the sky, showing us how to look at our situation from a greater distance. If we don’t get an immediate answer, we can remember that the universe has its own perfect timing that doesn’t heed the ticking of the clock. Instead, we can release our question into the universe’s care, and then trust that an animal messenger will carry inspiration our way. In the meantime, we align ourselves with the universe’s rhythm—opening, humbling ourselves, and shifting our perceptions so that at the perfect time we will be ready. Then, even weeks later, the sight of a small bird hopping from branch to branch may signal for us to use a talent other than our greatest strength and to take small leaps rather than fly over details. A squirrel bounding across an open expanse of grass to stash its latest prize may remind us to check our favorite hiding places for forgotten treasure. Even if we don’t see actual animals, their representations may hold messages; whether we see them in a shape in the clouds, a picture, or a show on television, their symbolic meaning is the same.

Animals are closer to the rhythms and cycles of nature and have fewer distractions from it than humans do. That is why they are the perfect messengers when we are in need of advice. Just by being themselves they remind us of the wisdom of the universe, and that all answers are available to us when we reconnect with our source and with those who know how to be nurtured by it.

Leaving the Earth a Better Place

April 5, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

From our first breath here to our very last, we will find infinite opportunities to influence our environment for the better.

We inherit this great planet from our parents and from the generations that came before. Then, in concert with the surrounding culture, our elders teach us how to care for the land and the sea, ourselves and each other. They model ways of being in relationship with every other expression of life on earth. But whether they act with care or carelessness, compassion or cruelty, generosity or greed, we have the ability to choose our own individual way of relating with the planet and her inhabitants. From our first breath here to our very last, we will find infinite opportunities to influence our environment for the better. We can decide now to act with intention in order to leave this amazing planet brighter and more beautiful than when we arrived.

If we enjoy environmental activism, we might feel moved to clean up beaches or to plant trees. But, we need not feel limited in our ability to contribute positively. There are many ways to leave a legacy of love. We might begin by radiating affirmative thoughts and feelings about how magnificent the earth truly is. We might create and tend a special garden, one that provides an abundance of food and herbs for ourselves and our loved ones. Or we might create a garden filled with sweet smelling flowers to uplift our hearts. We might even honor the earth simply by trying to be the best person we can be while we are here. Such good will can have a domino effect, inspiring others to contribute in their own way as well.

We spend our lifetimes being nourished and enlivened by the rain, sun, soil and wind. Our experience is blessed by other living beings, from plants to insects to birds and humans. We receive so much; giving back just naturally feels good. When we live our lives with intention of leaving this temporary home a better place for generations to come, we are perhaps leaving behind the best gift of all.

Children Of Mother Nature

March 10, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

People are very much like trees needing to send our roots down for grounding and open our crowns toward the sun.

A tree that is beginning to grow sends roots down into Mother Earth even as it reaches and opens to the sky above, seeking nourishment from the sun and the moisture in the air and in the rain that falls. In the same way, we can envision ourselves as treelike beings, imagining that we have roots reaching down into the earth, energetic strands that keep us connected. At the same time, the crowns of our heads lift and open to receive nourishment from above. Just like a tree, we seek the sunshine and water we need to survive and thrive. Both trees and people serve as conduits for the intermingling of the opposite and complementary elements of air, water, sun, and earth.

We also share creative ways of growing, regardless of the challenges we come up against in our environments. Trees will even grow through rock, shattering it, in their effort to reach the air and light they need to survive. We are similarly resilient, with a built-in propensity for growth and the conditions that promote it. We find creative ways around the obstacles we confront as we move along our paths, moving toward the light that feeds us, just as trees grow around other trees and rocks as they make their way upward.

Contemplating the ways in which trees and people mirror one another brings us into alignment with the reality that we are part of Mother Nature. Our children, and the trees and their children, will live together on the earth as long as we all survive, sharing the elements and serving together to forward nature’s plan. Walking in a forest can be a meditation, the interweaving lives of all living creatures and the planet on which we all take root and reach for the sky.

Making The Decision

January 21, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

By acknowledging the existence of what’s not working for us, we can begin the process of change.

The hardest thing about saying yes to the universe is that it means accepting everything life puts in front of us. Most of us have a habit of going through our days saying no to the things we don’t like and yes to the things we do, and yet, everything we encounter is our life. We may be afraid that if we say yes to the things we don’t like, we will be stuck with them forever, but really, it is only through acknowledging the existence of what’s not working for us that we can begin the process of change. So saying yes doesn’t mean indiscriminately accepting things that don’t work for us. It means conversing with the universe, and starting the conversation with a very powerful word—yes. 

When we say yes to the universe, we enter into a state of trust that whatever our situation is, we can work with it. We express confidence in ourselves, and the universe, and we also express a willingness to learn from whatever comes our way, rather than running and hiding when we don’t like what we see. The question we might ask ourselves is what it will take for us to get to the point of saying yes. For some of us, it takes coming up against something we can’t ignore, escape, or deny, and so we are left no choice but to say yes. For others, it just seems a natural progression of events that leads us to making the decision to say yes to life.

The first step to saying yes is realizing that in the end it is so much easier than the alternative. Once we understand this, we can begin examining the moments when we resist what is happening, and experiment with occasionally saying yes instead. It might be scary at first, and even painful at times, but if we continue to say yes to every moment through the process, we will discover the joy of being in  a positive conversation with a force much bigger than ourselves.

Letting Nature Work

January 4, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Often, when we are not looking, in the silence of nature’s embrace, the miracle of change happens.

We all see things about ourselves, our relationships, and our world that we want to change. Often, this desire leads us to take action toward inner work that we need to do or toward some external goal. Sometimes, without any big announcement or momentous shift, we wake up to find that change has happened, seemingly without us. This can feel like a miracle as we suddenly see that our self-esteem really does seem to be intact, or our partner actually is helping out around the house more. We may even wonder whether all of our hard work had anything to do with it, or if it just happened by way of grace.

As humans, sometimes we have relatively short attention spans, and we can easily lose track of time. We may worry about a seedling in a pot with our constant attention and watering for several weeks only to find ourselves enjoying the blooms it offers and wondering when that happened, and how we didn’t notice it. Nature, on the other hand, has infinite patience and stays with a thing all the way through its life. This doesn’t mean that our efforts play no part in the miracle of change they do. It’s just that they are one small part of the picture that finally results in the flowering of a plant, the shifting of a relationship, the softening of our hearts.

The same laws that govern the growth of plants oversee our own internal and external changes. We observe, consider, work, and wonder, tilling the soil of our lives, planting seeds, and tending them. Sometimes the hard part is knowing when to stop and let go, handing it over to the universe. Usually this happens by way of distraction or disruption, our attention being called away to other more pressing concerns. And it is often at these times, when we are not looking, in the silence of nature’s embrace, that the miracle of change happens.

Unifier of Opposites

December 14, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

The color green balances our energy so that in looking at it we feel confident that growth is inevitable.

Green is a combination of the colors yellow and blue, each of which brings its own unique energy to the overall feeling of the color green. Blue exudes calm and peace, while yellow radiates liveliness and high levels of energy. As a marriage between these two very different colors, green is a unifier of opposites, offering both the excitement of yellow and the tranquility of blue. It energizes blue’s passivity and soothes yellow’s intensity, inspiring us to be both active and peaceful at the same time. It is a mainstay of the seasons of spring and summer, thus symbolizing birth and growth.

Green is one of the reasons that spring instigates so much excitement and activity. As a visual harbinger of the end of winter, green stems and leaves shoot up and out from the dark branches of trees and the muddy ground, letting us know that it’s safe for us to come out, too. In this way, green invites us to shed our layers and open ourselves to the outside world, not in a frantic way but with an easygoing excitement that draws us outside just to sniff the spring air. Unlike almost any other color, green seems to have its own smell, an intoxicating combination of sun and sky—earthy, bright, and clean. In the best-case scenario, it stops us in our tracks and reminds us to appreciate the great experience of simply being alive.

Green balances our energy so that in looking at it we feel confident that growth is inevitable. It also gives us the energy to contribute to the process of growth, to nurture ourselves appropriately, without becoming overly attached to our part in the process. Green reminds us to let go and let nature do her work, while at the same time giving us the energy to do our own.

Rain

November 18, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Rain can be experienced through all of your senses, allowing you to understand how important each drop of water is

There are times when we might feel the need to wash away all of our troubles and call forth freshness into our lives. Since perhaps the most cleansing substance on this earth is water, we can think of the joy rain brings as an energetic bath, rejuvenating our minds, bodies and souls. Just being able to spend a few moments every time it rains to become aware of the healing powers water brings to us can renew us in so many ways. As we do this we will find that the more we appreciate the universe’s gift to us in the form of rain, the more we can see that a gentle rain shower is a strong reflective tool that has the ability to cleanse our entire being.

The next time it rains might be a good chance to experience the rain through all of your senses, allowing you to truly understand just how truly important each and every drop of water is. First, take a few minutes to look outside and notice how each individual raindrop seems to come down in a continual stream. By noticing this you can contemplate how it takes many small accomplishments to create the whole of your existence, for nothing exists in isolation. Then you might wish to focus your attention on the sound of the rainfall, letting the sounds of drops penetrate into the innermost recesses of your self. Listening in this way may bring you a greater sense of connection with nature and the world around you, knowing that the sounds you hear are an integral part of not just the physical sustenance you require but also nourish your spirit as well.

Consciously using our senses to feel nature’s healing energy as it comes to us in the form of rain is an act of internal cleansing. Just as the rain physically washes over the earth and rinses out any impurities and imperfections, so it also bathes our spirit in the joy that comes from knowing that we are in fact one with the world around us.

Poems by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh

October 26, 2010

Interbeing

The Sun has entered me.

The Sun has entered me together with the cloud and the river.

I myself have entered the Sun with the cloud and the river.

There has not been a moment when we do not interpenetrate.

But before the Sun entered me, the Sun was in me –

also the cloud and the river.

Before I entered the river, I was already in it.

There has not been a moment when we have not inter-been.

Therefore you know that as long as you continue to breathe,

I continue to be in you.

**************************************************

Walking Meditation

Take my hand.

We will Walk.

We will only walk.

We will enjoy our walk

without thinking of arriving anywhere.

Walk peacefully.

Walk happily.

Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn that there is no peace walk;

that peace is the walk; that happiness is the walk.

We walk for ourselves.

We walk for everyone

always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.

Walk and touch happiness every moment.

Each step brings a fresh breeze.

Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.

Kiss the earth with your feet.

Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe when we feel in us enough safety.

******************************************************

Our True Heritage

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem,

 shinning through and containing earth and sky,

water and clouds.

It needs you to breath gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing,

the pines chanting,

see the flowers blooming,

the blue sky,

the white clouds,

the smile and the marvellous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,

who have been going around begging for a living,

stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress

and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

Breathing In, Breathing Out

September 23, 2010

 [ By Plum Village ]

Breathing in, breathing out,
Breathing in, breathing out,
I am blooming as a flower,
I am fresh as the dew.

I am solid as a mountain,
I am firm as the earth,
I am free.

Breathing in, breathing out,
Breathing in, breathing out,
I am water reflecting,
What is real, what is true.

And I feel there is space,
Deep inside of me,
I am free, I am free, I am free.

〈吸进来,呼出去〉

吸进来,呼出去;吸进来,呼出去;

好似盛开一朵蓮花,

我清凉如一滴露,

一如高山 屹立不移,

像大地一般稳厚,我自在。

吸进来,呼出去;吸进来,呼出去;

我是净水反照著,

什么是真,什么是实,

在我觉得心里深处,

空间满溢在其中,

我自在,我放下,我自在。