“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say we have lost our connection to nature, we have lost our connection to ourselves.” ~Andy Goldsworthy
If you have ever seen an Andrew Goldsworthy installation, it brings forth a sense of awe and curiosity. His work uses natural elements ordered in a way that both highlight and defy nature.
When he speaks of his work, he speaks of that moment when it all becomes clear, when the multiplicity of elements, the leaves, rocks, sticks, gravity, wind, water and balance align. This alignment is not something he forces. He waits and watches and listens. He knows how to reveal what exists, nature’s rhythms and cycles, but is often unseen. In those few suspended, shimmering moments of alignment within nature’s rhythm, something unexpected peeks through.
How might the ephemeral work of stacking stones and sorting sticks and leaves of this world-renowned artist connect with yoga? Similar to the fractals in nature that Goldsworthy frames so exquisitely, yoga is also about alignment and secret revelations of clarity and wisdom at an array of scales.
Often we talk about the “inner work” of yoga. That’s what is happening inside, the world of the mind and the breath. Sometimes that inner world can feel like nature’s most intense chaos. There is no taming a terrifying earthquake or perfect storm of the mind and soul.
As with many of the practices of wholebeing, the solutions seem too simple. Often they are hiding in plain sight.
Goldsworthy connects to what is here, what is beautiful and what is home. We are part of the natural world. We live in it, and we are aligned, whether we acknowledge it or not, with the natural world, but often we do not let its power seep in. Yoga and self-care aren’t about organizing your body into perfect alignment. It’s about stepping into your greater alignment with the natural world all around you.
The sister science of Yoga, an ancient wisdom tradition is known as Ayurveda, which translates to “the knowledge of life,” reminds you that you’re simply a smaller version, a microcosm, of the greater world, macrocosm, and that your power comes from aligning with that world around you. When you begin to reconnect with this external world and study its natural rhythms and cycles, it provides a pathway to access your inner wisdom.
So what wisdom can we garner from the natural world?
A soothing rhythm of cycles and seasons experienced daily, weekly, yearly and over a lifetime. As things shift, so must we.
A symbiotic harmony and connection of the parts to the whole. Check out this article and video about how trees communicate and share with one another!
Embracing change as necessary adaptability. These animals have figured out how to adapt to fit their changing environments and needs.
Time as a smooth and gentle flow. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu
Would you like some of this wisdom? Here is how you can connect more with nature as part of your practice of self-care.
- At your next meal, put your phone away, step away from your computer and turn off the TV. Sit outside, or near a window. Observe what’s around you. Catch a piece of sky, even if you are among buildings, to see what’s going on up there. Or sit near a plant and check in with all of your senses. Breathe it all in.
- For your lunch break, take a walk outside. Do this in different weather conditions and seasons. Notice how you feel on a cold, windy day compared to a warm, sunny day. Is one type of weather more enjoyable, calming, or exciting for you?
- Pick a deciduous tree (those are the ones that shed their leaves each year) that you see every day and spend a few moments looking at it each day for an entire year. You’ll begin to notice the subtle shifts the tree experiences in the annual cycles of the seasons. Look for the community of animals that come to that tree to perch, eat or make it their home.
If you and nature have been apart for a while, some of these activities might feel scary and you notice some resistance to these activities. That is okay. I’ve known even the most self-described “city-person” decide to take it slowly. As they got reacquainted, they discovered their senses reawakened, life seemed to realign and an abundance of inner world wisdom arrived.
If you have any questions or need more ideas, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to be of service and support!