Shores of Lake Erie
Opening up to the Aliveness of nature is this week’s mindfulness focus. Some settings immediately open our eyes to the aliveness of the natural world. I grew up along the shores of Lake Erie(1) and walking along the beach on even the calmest days, the aliveness is palpable. On stormy days, six foot waves roar in and crash onto the shore, sand rises like swirling banshees and whips across the beach, and tree limbs bend and shift wildly in the wind. It can be scary and invigorating to be there. And it is impossible to miss the aliveness.
Redwoods and Rockies
Last September, I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life. The Redwood forests are as everyone describes them, awe inspiring. They are ancient beings that are so beautiful and so massive that it is hard to comprehend how they got there.
I now live near the Rocky Mountains and viewing the mountains even from the city of Denver is breathtaking. They are more immense than I could have imagined. I often wonder what people crossing on horseback or wagon thought when they first saw them. Spending time hiking immerses us in expansive beauty and a sharp aliveness that permeates everything.
In all of these places nature seems to be calling us loudly. They feel other worldly because they are so different from the city-scapes many of us inhabit. But the city-scapes are also alive with nature if we adjust our eyes and ears to a softer call.
Two Approaches to Hearing the Softer Call
There are two ways to approach this. First, we can pay attention to even the smallest voices of the green world: dandelions and other wild flowers pushing up through city sidewalks; wild flowers taking over abandoned lots; birds, squirrels and other critters making their homes in the cities. We can be attentive to the green world in flower pots on porches, small back yard gardens, and city parks. We can notice and stop to appreciate the beauty. Even if we live someplace blanketed by snow, we can tune into the trees and plants that are quiet, but alive, throughout the winter.
And second, we can cultivate an awareness that we are all part of the natural world. Our brains like to create a separation, but we humans are part of the web. Every breath we take is completely dependent on the green world around us. Nature is alive everywhere and we are part of it.
We can practice shifting our vision to be aware of the natural beauty and aliveness in and all around us and our connection to it. That’s the focus this week.
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Just a Note
(1) For anyone who doesn’t know, the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie are large bodies of water, containing 21% of the surface fresh water on the planet. Unlike many of the “lakes” out west, which are really big ponds, you can’t see across Lake Erie.