Dropping In: Mindfulness in Nature
We are a collective of humans that intentionally place ourselves outdoors more than others. We value the experiences in nature's cathedrals. We continue to play in ways others may never know after childhood. We have access and continually exist within a deeper truth. That truth is, that it’s all connected. Nature is the pulsation of life. Every tree, every shrub, every snowflake that falls from the sky is a participant in the infinite cycles of form and formlessness. The snow you ride down melts away, washes down the hillside into a flowing river, giving life to endless plants along the way. Maybe an animal sips that very water you rode across. Or a friend surfs a wave that contains a drop of this water. Maybe it is then picked up into the sky once again to make its way to a trail, a climbing route, or someone else’s home mountain. My time in nature leaves me in awe and wonder. How does all this beauty exist? Every breath reminding me that I am in a relationship with the plants and trees. What wonder to be in the outdoors.
Feeling connected is a human need. Our species has evolved for thousands of years connected to each other and nature. Tribes. Communities. Towns. Nations. Humans have made it this far because of our ability to work together. We have also made it this far from our dependency and connection to the natural world. The seasons, the cycles of each year. Many of our species have lost this connection. Working in isolated offices all day, driving home to houses that are surrounded by concrete, and encapsulated in man-made chemistry. Shut off from feeling the connection to the natural world. Food comes from a building. Water comes out of a faucet. The many gifts of everyday life have gone forgotten because most of them are now connected to financial transactions. Many have lost track of how interconnected it all is.
We are lucky, our passions have kept us intertwined with the magic of existence. Even if it is within the unconscious mind. We are still interacting with nature, and the ancient parts of us get their needs met. I want you to think of your favorite outdoor activity. Imagine the season it is connected to. What the weather is like. What plants and trees you are immersed in? Can you close your eyes and imagine breathing in the abundant air? Filling your lungs so that your body can perform. What does your body feel like in this location? Is it contracted and tight? Or is it spacious and light? What is your connection to? Is it the earth? The dirt, the rock, the sand. Can you feel the sun? Does it grace you with its presence in your favorite locations? Or maybe you play with the water. Is it in liquid form or frozen? No matter what your outdoor hobby is feel yourself playing with the elements of creation. Earth, Water, Air, Fire.
We live in a world where most have forgotten the depth of their connection to life. Doing. Achieving. Acquiring. Owning. When we get lost in these aspects of life it is easy to forget how much more there is to experience. I am so grateful for the calling to outdoor sports. My life would be very different if I did not get drawn to snowboarding. So grateful for those that pioneered their passion. We are the lucky ones. . . Intimately interacting with the world that our ancestors have been connected to for thousands of years. The truth is we are expressions of nature. Just like the trees, the animals, the plants, the insects. Every time we step outside we are welcomed home.
This awareness can be a training. The truth is it is all connected, and yet our human minds are so powerful that we often miss this atomic truth. Invite in more connection and presence to your favorite outdoor activity. Set yourself up for success. Make an agreement with yourself. “The next time I am outdoors I am going to pause for 1 minute and feel connection and gratitude for such a fulfilling moment.” Life is a gift when we see it that way. The best thing is we can practice finding that perspective wherever we look. Join us on this journey and Drop-In.
Tips for a mindful session amongst nature:
Pause & intentionally make time: Experience your surroundings as fully as you possibly can.
Listen: What can you hear? How many layers of sound can you tune into?
Smell: What kinds of fragrances surround you?
Observe: Watch your breath through the many sensations. Are you breathing fast or slow? In and out of your nose or mouth?
Feel: What's the temperature on your skin? Can you feel the energy coursing through your body?
Smile: You are alive. Your needs are met and you are enjoying this beautiful world.
Photographer: Jordan Ingmire