Learning from Nature

“Nature is my religion”

To me, this means – that the natural world, the wilderness is a divinely beautiful system, in harmony with itself – self-regulating and wondrously complex, intricate and sacred.  It is unfathomable, well-organized and astoundingly beautiful at both the micro and the macro levels.

Nature operates more on a rhythm than a calendar.  Her processes of change are interrelated and subtle.  How do two trees growing side by side interact?  They obviously intertwine their roots, and often give space to each other’s branches and accommodate one another.  Until, at some point perhaps one has an advantage and outgrows the other, one grows and one withers.  It’s a chance of fate, of birth and species.  A Douglas fir will eventually overshadow an oak, transforming the forest from hardwoods to softwoods, from deciduous to coniferous.

The Sufis says that the leaves of a tree as the pages of the Bible.  I have taken  time to meditate with trees, and with their leaves.  These otherworldly beings begin their lives as a seed, and absorb, transmute and alchemize themselves into trees, using sunlight, water, air and food.  Somehow they know to do this, it happens, and to intimately witness that miracle is a true spiritual awakening.

We share this planet with so many other kinds of beings.  The sheer variety is more than my human brain can possibly assimilate.  Like a hummingbird, I witness the activities in my garden by casting my awareness around from flower, to leaf, to shaft of sunlight to critter movement to stillness.  Tonight I shared a moment with a raccoon, yesterday a small spider and before that a family of quail who live in the blackberry thicket right off the driveway. I know that the animals and many of the beings that live on this land with me for the past 20 years watch me, know my habits and accommodate themselves to that.  At one time there were three crows who watched as I fed the outside cat (she won’t come in even though she’s welcome) and patiently waited until the cat finished eating to empty the dish.  These days a fox does that job…

After a time spent in nature as my mind returns to its smaller, more human concerns it has become much easier to cast aside those pesky self-limiting and self-judging thoughts. A new perspective has been gained that is more open – more kind, more accepting.  To find myself being a part of the natural world is thrilling, and at the same time since it is actually the natural state, it also feels, well, natural.  Simultaneously relaxed and alert.  Refreshed and reinvigorated.  Renewed and Restored.

One of the purposes of meditation for me is to slow down enough to be able to perceive the subtle activities of the natural world.  To watch the chrysalis open, to catch a closeup view of a butterfly.  Have you ever looked closely at a butterfly’s face?  They are heartbreakingly adorable.  They are little fairy creatures, some of them have polka dotted bodies, other have little multicolored striped antennae… Dragonflies have great big smiles – Bumblebees are all different, some tiny and mostly black, others plump and more yellow.  Why?  This I cannot answer!

What else is to be learned from this holy book?  Patience, allowing, trusting – as the natural world’s processes are so well organized and effective, then is it possible that we, too are so well organized?  That we have an innate program that will choose our place, will allow us to be created into what we really are?  The best healers I know guide the body to listen to its own innate wisdom, for the blueprint for health is already contained within each of us.  That includes the blueprint for physical, emotional and spiritual health.  It all comes back to learning how to listen, deeply, honestly, truly listen.

 

 

a morning meditation

Breathing in, I fill my body with light
Breathing out, I give thanks for this divine moment

Breathing in I forgive myself
Breathing out I forgive everyone else

Breathing in I love myself
Breathing out I love everyone else

Breathing in I rest in awareness
Breathing out I rest my mind

Breathing in I feel light and free
Breathing out I release all that is holding me back

Breathing in I fill my lungs with light
Breathing out I forgive everyone who has harmed me

Breathing in I open to the divine light of love
Breathing out I forgive everyone I have harmed

Breathing in I recognize the Divine in all beings
Breathing out I send healing love to all

Mitakuye Oyasin
All My Relations

 

To Lyme Disease and back again –

It started at ground level (an apt metaphor, to start with a bang!).  I’d planted a daffodil bulb, my first ever.  When its blindingly bright bonnet of a blossom unfolded like an origami miracle, my life began. There was no turning back, the spell was cast!  I became  enchanted by plants.  I dreamed plants, breathed plants and spent every moment I had in the garden, in the nursery or reading whatever gardening book I could find.  I continued to toil in a career for which I was increasingly unsuited until I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I left a lucrative high-tech career for the simplicity of a rare plant nursery and minimum wage work.  Happiness!  Heaven! Each day the plants and I communed, learning each other’s language.  I spent my meager pay on plants and committed myself full time to a life of nurturing of living beings.

Fast forward – 15 years or so – when I purchased a rundown old farmhouse on 10 acres.  This place was my dream palette, and I began planting all my dreams in that Gold Ridge sandy loam soil.  I opened my own country nursery- Wayward Gardens – specializing in plants for hummingbirds and butterflies.  My days were spent in the sunshine, propagating, pricking out and potting up.  I was satisfied, fulfilled and on fire with passion.

And yet, some parts of me were held back.  I loved my work but other parts of my life weren’t so fulfilling- my marriage was on the rocks, my nephew/ward was troublesome and delinquent and my inner being was inconstant turmoil.  I knew there was something missing, a state of being that felt more contented and happy.  I didn’t know how to find it, or what to even begin looking for…

As usually happens in these kind of times, I overworked and became ill.  It was Lyme disease.  I suffered for two years – bedridden.  My doctors were the best, and the treatment was the worst.  I survived, somehow and began rebuilding my strength.

After about 6 months in bed, filled with self-pity and suffering I had a spontaneous vision.  It was a vision of all the suffering people on planet Earth.  I felt connected to them, I saw them – they were in hospital beds, or poor homes, and they had no hope.  I was in a nice home, with full support and yet still I saw I had joined the ranks of the truly suffering.  I was one of them.  This was my turning point.  I had a spiritual re-awakening and realized that healing is a gift, healing is grace, which is bestowed or not.  I also knew that there were ways I could participate in this healing – that I could make better choices in my life to facilitate easier healing.  I needed to pray, and to choose love.  Love for myself, love for others – and to choose gratitude and positive thoughts.  I also made a prayer – “If I receive healing, please show me how to serve”…I saw that offering my life into the service of humanity was the way to receive healing.  I said “Please make it really clear”, a prayer I often make, which does seem to help a lot in manifesting what is wanted or needed.

I spent more time in my healing process, but had more courage since my re-awakening.  I felt humble and thought I might end up in a wheelchair for life, or be seriously handicapped.  I felt OK with that, as long as I could find my service.

After about 6 more months of treatment, I decided I couldn’t endure the antibiotics any longer and the doctor and I decided it was time for me to quit them and see how I felt.  It turns out that the side effects of the antibiotics and the Lyme symptoms are somewhat similar – fatigue and digestive distress being at the top of the list.

Lo and behold I did not experience the Lyme symptoms anymore once I quit the antibiotics.  Hallelujah!  I could live life again, I would be gifted that!  I could still walk a bit (about 5 minutes) but devoted myself right away to walking down my beautiful country road every day until I could easily walk for an hour.  That took about a month, my body was eager to live again.

At this point my marriage had severely deteriorated.  My years of illness had taken quite a toll on our intimacy.  My husband was angry that I had been in bed for so long.  He didn’t like the direction my life took when I was healthy again.  I started helping a meditation teacher.  His work had helped me to a wonderful new place in my life, he said to me “there is so much love for you in this world, Leana”… and I knew I had to find out what that meant.  I knew I hadn’t truly felt love or loved.  I wanted this more than anything.  I trusted him and began helping him almost full time.  He invited me to move to Hawaii and start a community there with him.

I moved to Hawaii and began an intensive self-reflection and healing process.  I was experiencing love in ways I didn’t know existed.  My own emotional body was opening, facilitated by many things:  dolphin swims, Hawaii sunsets, fresh tropical fruit and intensive meditation.  I also used herbal medicines and teas.

One day I sat in front of my computer to write in my journal.  Intense personal transformation seems to call for journalling – since it is a good way to be able to reflect back on one’s progress, and as an aid to compassion for others.  This way we can remind ourselves of the places we have come from.  The stages of heart opening are similar for many of us, it seems.

The stages are something like this, from my experience:

1.  The Realization that something isn’t right

2.   The search for the truth

3.  First encounter with higher truth

4.  The “washing machine” of transformation, which may takes days, months or years during which time life as we know it vanishes and staying present and grounded is a big challenge.  This is a very difficult time, we need a lot of support during this time.

5. The comfort zone – which continues to expand and contract with presence and lack of presence.

6.  Samadhi – the promised land!  (I’m not here yet but do feel it from time to time)

 

bless you all – stay on the path, every moment you give to the Great Work of awakening is worthwhile.  Just remember “Choose Love” and all will be ok.