Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
– John Muir.
Life itself is a great force, pushing us always forward, forward.
It takes both effort and ease to simultaneously “go with the flow” and exist in the present moment. As we all know, time passes quickly and does not wait for us to be ready to move on. It does not pause so that we can catch our breath. In our society, we are indeed faced with great external pressures and expectations and, if we are not careful, we can begin to absorb these as our own.
We’ve heard it said in many ways, “slow down, take time for yourself, you need some rest.” And we know this to be true…yet we keep going.
But we must pause. We simply must. We must remove ourselves physically from the computers, phones, cars, offices, to-do lists. We must retreat back into Nature, where we can be still and hear the longings of our heart, where we can remember our truth.
I recently found myself in a state of rushing, stress, anxiety. From an office window I noticed the leaves changing colors and dancing in the autumn winds. I found myself yearning to be outside, to escape. And so escape I did! A short time later, this past weekend, I was sitting on the front porch of a farm house built in 1826, on 500 acres and surrounded by hundreds of acres more of forest. There was no Wi-Fi, no cell phone service, no television, and no cars.
Immediately I knew it to be a very special place. I noticed the color of the sky and of the trees more vibrantly. The birdsong and the breeze were the only sounds. With closed eyes, I breathed deeply, taking in the healing of Nature. Silently, I walked along the fields and woods, observing the natural world. How very different one feels in solitude, with no distractions, I mused. The feelings of stress and anxiety melted away with each step. As I paused in the quiet beauty, I began to hear the whispers of my heart.
I am a person who embraces change, craves it, in fact. However, lately I’ve been cautious to make changes. Now, finally alone with my thoughts, I realized this was because of the fear of how others would view one who moves on so often. This fear was not completely unfounded – I have indeed had judgment passed on me during recent times of transformation: “I hope you eventually find what you’re looking for” and “Well, maybe this will be what you REALLY want this time!” I had internalized those judgments and, at some point, had begun asking myself, “What is wrong with me?” But suddenly, in that moment, standing alone amongst the trees and birds and clouds and sun – the fear and the judgment fell away. It was replaced with an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for myself – seeing this need for change as a thing of beauty and not, as I had let myself believe, a character flaw. “Nothing is wrong with me!” my heart declared. I am a soul who is evolving, growing and flourishing – and that is a beautiful thing.
There were other important realizations out there in that field that are too personal to share. But all it took for me to resolve this long-lasting internal conflict was to remove myself from the distractions, retreat into Nature, and listen to my heart, listen to my soul. All of the questions that I had been struggling to answer were residing right within me this whole time.
We must pause, we must be still. Our hearts and souls know what we need. We simply need to listen.