Looking to Nature - Part 1

Written by Michael Jospe Posted in Looking to Nature Series, Transformational Guiding, Nature-Connected Coaching, Wilderness Guiding

What does it mean to look to nature?

IMG 0047
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.” 
 William Blake
The topic of looking to nature is expansive. I’ve decided to turn this discussion into an ongoing series. These next few articles, I feel, just start to scratch the surface. I look forward to developing this idea over time.
Nature is more than that which is found outside of us - it is also found internally, interpersonally, and, I believe, spiritually (the influential yet unseen world that we exist within).
IMG 0438 
Though it may seem complex, looking to Nature is a simple choice, a decision  that will open doors of understanding and inspiration. It's not about being an expert in something - it’s quite the opposite! It's about remaining in a sense of awe and wonder about the workings of the inner and outer world.
If there is a skill involved with this, it is the ability to cultivate awareness so that you pay attention to your experience, rather than bouncing along though space on autopilot! This shift to attention has an important effect on your brain, and opens the door to a whole realm of inner-wisdom and knowing.
Shifting attention to awareness of your experience as you observe the environment is a powerful type of meditation. It will eventually create a kind of euphoric state where connections and insights are made. This euphoric state is similar to the state of “Flow”, wherein the mind and body stop struggling though whatever is happening and instead let go and flow effortlessly through the experience. Flow is a common state that is experienced by athletes, writers, and artists alike. Within this state, one's mind and body focus to the extent that tunneled vision and intense focus expands. The body and mind quiet to a slower rhythm and you at once are able to sense, see and feel your surroundings in a new way. Everything synchronizes - you are no longer thinking about what your doing anymore - it’s just happening. You've now locked into alpha brain waves and your creativity, flexibility and awareness go through the roof!
Entering into this state takes time, intention and concentration. You do not need to be performing a physical activity to access flow, but that is one possibility. Looking to nature and connecting to nature is another! So, too, is meditation. For those of us who live busy lives that are often insulated from the natural environment, to access this state requires us to stop moving, physically, and slow down internally. Like meditation practices, wherein one intentionally sits in quiet, nonjudgemental internal observation, we can have a very similar and even more dynamic experience by sitting quietly in nature for at least 10 minutes, eyes open, ears open and attention focused on what is happening in the moment.
What am I seeking?
Shifting attention to awareness of your experience is a big step. But to shift from general observation, which has tremendous physiological and physiological benefits, to looking to nature for insight and direction, we need to take one more step. This step is adding in a question, borne from a need for insight or direction within some aspect of your life. All of a sudden you’ve cranked up the power tremendously.  It’s like you’re both consciously searching and unconsciously being led - at the same time! IMG 0040
Think of some aspect of your life that you are struggling with or for which you seek insight. Take a moment to really feel the experience of that conflict or dilemma inside you. Then feel your desire or need to resolve this issue, the yearning for an answer. Next, let that feeling go by bringing your attention back to the here and now. Look around, and feel drawn or compelled to start to move in a certain direction or a certain way. Simply follow that “pull” and see where it leads you, keeping your attention upon your experience. When something catches your eye or your heart, feel that curiosity and go check it out. Stay with it for a moment and see if any ideas or connections arise. More often than not, something (an insight, connection, or answer) will be there.
Read on to part two of this topic which looks at how to apply these concepts professionally.

About the Author