Learning from nature is not necessarily about getting things on an intellectual level, but having a direct experience of being in nature and having the lessons drop into our bodies organically. So take the ideas below and find a way to be in nature and see what she has to say about them to you. It might be different. One of my favorite practices is to go into nature with a struggle and then ask, “what would nature do?” and then actually pay attention to what I see around me in order to find, or discover, the answer. That being said, I wanted to share some of the things that nature has taught me over the years.
Patience: Things (Just) Happen.
One of the things I am continually being taught by nature is patience, in a much greater sense of the word than I have experienced before. Many of us feel a massive urgency in life, which can show up as urgency in the moment as we try to get from place to place, or an urgency that we need to figure out our life’s purpose, or that there’s something we need to do before we die, and whatever it is, it needs to happen faster than it’s currently happening. But nature is not urgent, nature has a steady pace and a trust. Without urgency, things still happen, are created and grow. We can learn so much from this. If we keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, stepping into what’s next, things will continue to happen, be created, grow and change.
Patience also includes being patient with the impatient parts of ourselves. I was sitting with a woman this morning and she caught herself judging herself and she was frustrated as she realized she still had so much self judgement. She wanted to be done with it. I don’t think nature gets frustrated about the fact that she still has seasons. I don’t think the tree is impatient with the cycle of growth, or that their leaves continue to fall off every fall. Nature grows without impatience at the growth process.
Relationships: Remaining Ourselves, Working Together.
Take one look around you and it’s easy to see how all of nature is in some kind of dynamic relationship. You will see the way that trees grow into and around each other, neither being totally separate nor ceasing to be themselves all together. They shift and grow and find a different kind of beauty together. Rivers shift around rocks, or shift the rocks themselves. Birds move differently in different wind patterns. Everything is in relationship with everything else, dynamically.
Another thing nature shows us about being in a relationship, is to be the one you are. The oak tree is not trying to be the redwood. As one of my teachers Teo Alfero says, “This wolf is not jealous that the other wolf’s tail is bushier and that wolf is not trying to howl like this other wolf over there.” The acorn is not hurrying along to become an oak tree, and at the same time, they are in a relationship and there is an ecosystem. Rather than being constricting, the ecosystem is actually what allows each part to be fully itself.
Growth: Life in Fallow Times.
I was listening to an audio from Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes recently, and she was talking about the rhizome of the plant. We have so much to learn from this piece of nature about life and growth in fallow times. The definition of a rhizome is a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals .
Within all of us lives a continuously growing rhizome, even when the plant above has fallen over, is brown or dying. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have or haven’t accomplished, how much trauma, loss or grief you’ve experienced, whether you’re feeling fully alive or dark and fallow, the rhizome inside you is alive and simply waiting for the right conditions to grow. That is how resilient you are, no matter the circumstances of your life, no matter if you’ve felt for years like someone was trying to pull you out by the roots, inside you lives a part that is always there and aching to grow. It’s not that it wants to be alive, it is alive, always.
There are different perspectives for the right conditions. One is to question whether we are truly putting ourselves in the right conditions to grow, and we have some control over that. It could be where we live, our friendships, relationships etc, and we have the capacity to change those conditions. It’s also worth remembering we have the capacity to change our circumstances while we are still in them.
These are the three major things I’ve learned from nature—that without hurrying, holding oneself back, or ‘playing small’, nature continues to create & grow. There’s patience without the concept of patience. Nature cannot help but find Right Relationship. And there is life & growth in fallow times.
But remember, nature doesn’t teach on an intellectual level. All we need to do is put ourselves in Her space: Wherever we are, whatever time of year, whatever the weather, and see what happens because it is in that space, of actually witnessing & perceiving at a bodily & sensory level, that we truly see & feel the truth of these teachings, and how they relate to our lives.
If you’re interested in exploring this further and learning what nature has to teach you, join me for Return to Source.
We immerse ourselves into nature, sleeping close to the earth, drinking water from springs that are thousands of years old, and swimming in glacial water. Here you will be taught everything you need to know and more.