Welcome back to the Mindfulness In Nature course.
Did you get to experiment with observing your presence, projection, and the splash? Now that you’ve been introduced to some of the elements that determine how your presence projects out around you, it’s time to learn ways to shift these dynamics consciously. This way, you can choose if you want to create a splash, or just make a small ripple as you move through an area.
This art requires mindful awareness, applied internally, and extending out through your senses all around you. Blending and flowing with Nature’s rhythms is a fun, engaging way to dial in your mindfulness skills because the birds and animals become your teachers! And, they are paying close attention to you!
We’re going to build further today on what you learned back in Lesson 3, where we introduced the Mindfulness in Motion practice.
Understanding Nature’s Rhythms
As you’ve begun to observe, the birds and other animals have a natural pattern to their activity. There is an average speed and rhythm to an animal’s foraging behavior, or to the way a bird sings and maintains its territory. Animals in their relaxed state also have a typical posture and movement pattern.
We observe this in a deer with its head to the grass-feeding, or a bird scratching on the ground for seeds. The animal feeds in a spot for a while, then shifts to a new foraging spot. Or, if a bird is singing in its typical pattern, it may sing from one perch for a bit, then rotate to another. The key here is the rhythmic, almost casual feeling to the behavior.
When this rhythm is broken, something is going on. Sometimes, sudden weather changes such as gusts of wind or bursts of rain can change the rhythm. But often, a predator or a person has moved into the area, causing the other animals to be wary.
For instance, if a ground predator such as a bobcat comes through, the birds may shift from song to uttering harsh, chattering alarm calls directed towards the cat. If a bird-eater like Cooper’s hawk is around, the area may become eerily quiet as songbirds hide and wait for the threat to pass. Or, sometimes a predator is just passing through or resting, which creates much less of a response compared to a hunting posture or stalking motion.
What Does it Mean to Blend and Flow with Nature’s Patterns?
People, too, have an impact on the rhythms of the birds and animals. We can either choose to blend with the rhythms of a place, or make our own splash and carry on with whatever rhythms we happen to be in.
As we’ll delve further, the biggest keys to blending and flowing with Nature’s rhythms are to move slowly, quietly, relaxed, and smoothly. By pausing often, you’ll allow for any ripples you are making to slow down and diminish. As you learn to match yourself to Nature’s rhythm, you’ll begin to flow and blend with the larger pattern of the area. When you do this, animals will continue their usual activity and you’ll have opportunities to participate in a more intimate level of a conscious relationship with the life around your Meditation Spot.
When you walk to your spot, it’s a great chance to extend your awareness all around you. Allow your senses to bring you fully into the moment. Notice what the natural rhythm of the place is at that time. We’ll talk more about how this rhythm changes throughout the day and seasons in the next lesson, but for today, it’s enough to know that each place has a natural rhythm that you can tune into.
Another helpful practice is to pause before walking into an area. Simply extend your senses for a couple of minutes to note what’s happening. Observe and feel the rhythm of any animal sounds. Notice if the birds are singing or making calls and whether birds are feeding or preening the feathers. These are good indications that all is in harmony. Also note any mammal behavior, such as squirrels gathering food.
Also, observe any silences, pauses inactivity, or sounds of alarm. Even frogs and crickets will pause their singing when they sense a disturbance nearby. So, allow your senses to take in any clues about how animals are responding to your presence, or to any hidden predators in the area.
As you observe, also note any inner feelings or sensations that come up. With practice, you may begin to notice that there is an overall feel to the usual rhythms of a place, versus the feeling when something is going on, such as when a hawk or other predator is in the area. Later we’ll be exploring how the feelings we carry inside ourselves interplay with the feelings of the greater landscape. But for this lesson, we want to start tuning into what’s going on around us, so that we can start blending in more to the natural rhythms. I invite you to join me now for a meditation on deepening our mindful movement practices.
Meditation: Walking with the Fox Mind
In this meditation, we will practice some mindful movement, and then we’ll add an internal practice to deepen the meditation, by attuning to the grace and ease of motion that a fox walks with. Let’s start with warming up through some movement.
As you walk to your meditation Spot, slow to about ½ or ⅓ of your normal walking speed. Allow your feet to take shorter steps. As we did in Lesson 4, as you place each foot, allow your foot to gently sense the ground before committing your weight. This allows you to feel for any loose stones or obstacles that might compromise your balance, or to avoid snapping any sticks that would make loud noises. By feeling this way, you might be surprised how much information your feet can take in about the ground you are walking upon. This also frees up your eyes to look ahead more often, rather than down at your feet.
So, get into a rhythm with this walking pattern, of lifting the foot gently, then sensing where you intend to step, and then placing the foot and finally, gently shifting your weight forward onto it. Let your body tell you what’s comfortable as you experiment with this way of walking.
To deepen your mindful awareness, I invite you to look up towards the horizon and allow your vision to expand, so that you are paying attention to your entire field of view. If you are listening to the recording as you walk, pause the recording and spend a minute or two walking in this manner.
After you’ve gotten into a rhythm with walking, I invite you to sense your body moving with fluidity and ease. Notice how slowing down and moving with expanded awareness allows you to be in greater connection with Nature’s harmony.
Now, imagine yourself as a fox, gliding with each gentle step across the landscape, balanced and in tune with your surroundings. Gift yourself five or ten minutes to move in this way, flowing with Nature through the wisdom of this graceful animal. When you feel complete, imagine you are stepping out of Fox’s perspective, and back into your usual mindset, refreshed and recharged by this new way of walking with Nature.
I’ll connect with you soon in the next lesson, where we’ll go further into finding the harmony of our own Inner Nature.