Friday, August 26, 2016

Coffee Yoga

Mug


I've been doing yoga off and on for most of my adult life. I started for the strength and flexibility of body, but it called to me as a practice of spirituality too since it's a moving meditation. Given my commitment to it, I wondered why some mornings when I got up, it seemed more like a chore than a joy.

So I decided to see if, or how, I could change that.

Of course I know that I'm not as young as I used to be, not as flexible. It'd be crazy for me to compare myself to an earlier me. But sometimes a bit sneaks in. Certainly I understand that there are times when it's just too hard to get to the mat. I'm not shirking. Yet sometimes I wonder if I'm being a bit lazy. The biggest drawback though, was discouragement. I was doing so well, strengthening my shoulders and then, a setback - my physiotherapist told me, "No more plank. Ever." I know I can adjust. I have in the past, but, well, damn.

Then I came across this passage in "Awakening the Spine," by Vanda Scaravelli.

She asked, "Why are we doing yoga? For health reasons? ... Out of a sense of duty or discipline? ... No. Nothing of the kind. No motivation, no aims, only an agreeable appointment for the body to look forward to. We do it for the fun of it. To twist, stretch, and move around is pleasant and enjoyable, a body holiday."

An agreeable appointment. A body holiday. For the fun of it.

It was just what I needed to see.

Life is good, I reminded myself. There is no need to struggle. Ease in the physical = ease in the spiritual.

That's where the coffee came in.

But isn't coffee bad for you? Yeah, well so is discouragement. And I take joy in my morning coffee.

So I dig out the yoga mat first thing in the morning right after I make the coffee, and I do a routine (or part of one) with a video. When I come to a spot that I can't do any more, I see what I can substitute that brings ease, or I sit back for 30 seconds and sip from my favourite chick mug, while Adriene or Padma does her thing.

It's been fun. Joy isn't found in what I used to be able to do, or what I might be able to achieve in the future. It's found right now on the yoga mat. And today, it's with a cup of coffee.



First published in September 2016 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Right or Wrong

BBQ


In her email to my group, the writer said, "I feel I need to correct a misperception. Just because it is cooked on a grill, it does not make it barbeque. To cook something on an open flame over direct heat is to grill. To barbeque is to cook something slowly over indirect heat, flavoring the food with smoke." At first, I wondered if she was joking, but no, she's a Certified Barbeque Judge from the southern USA.

What makes us need to correct other people when we believe they're wrong?

Sarah, who is gay, corrects people to 'educate' them. Her barely suppressed anger covers her hurt feelings, her vulnerability, and her need for acceptance.

Harry corrects people to bolster his self-esteem. He may even think it's his ideas we must agree with, but he just wants his beliefs and ideas to count for something.

After Sharon insisted that the documents we needed for the lawyer were in my possession, and I knew they were in hers, our conflict was about more than simply who was right, it was about how we perceived ourselves, each of us seeing ourselves as well-organized and efficient.

We need to be right to maintain our grip onto self-identity, personal or cultural. The barbeque lady is a good example of cultural identity. That's how things are done in the 'south'.

The I'm-right, No-I'm-right, kind of conflict doesn't produce any winners, though.

After I got off the phone with Sharon, I rushed to my notes to see who was right about the documents. I was. Yes! That felt gratifying, but only for a second. My conviction that I was right ran deep. But she was just as convinced that she was right. My ego may have been gratified by being right, but at what cost to hers?

Being right didn't make me happy.

After that, I changed my mantra to "Do I want to be right or happy?"

It was a good next step. It made room for me to choose not to get caught up in an unnecessary conflict. Yet, it didn't go far enough. If I smiled graciously and let them 'continue to deceive themselves,' my need to be right meant I was still caught up in ego gratification.

Too often we mix facts and beliefs, forgetting that just as beliefs can and do change over time, facts can too. Galileo. Need I say more?

And each of us from our own unique perspective, conditioning and experience is bound to see things differently from others. Someone who is colour-blind will not see yellow the same way I do. There's a good chance nobody sees yellow quite the same as I do, even though the variations may be small.

So what can I do when beliefs conflict?

It helps to eliminate all ideas of right or wrong: Right or wrong? There's no such thing. Whatever the belief they have, it's theirs. They came to this belief through a lot of living. They earned every bit of their belief. It's as true to them as my beliefs are to me.

Recognize that their beliefs are not my responsibility: These beliefs could all change at some point, but someone else's beliefs are not really my business unless actions taken as a result of these beliefs do me harm. I don't have any responsibility to find consensus. I don't have to mediate, educate, or persuade anyone. I don't need resolution.

Let it be a bit uncomfortable: Lack of resolution can be uncomfortable. Ego doesn't like that. And ego likes to be right.

Choose how much I want to become embroiled in conflict: If it turns into a conflict, know that I can withdraw at any time. I am entitled. If I long to jump in and persuade, then it's my own ego trying to take control.

Then finally, see us all with tenderness: Sharon was facing the tough fact that she might not have been quite as in control of the paperwork as she thought. Harry was facing the tough fact that he didn't have as much influence on the world around him as he wanted. Sarah was facing the tough fact that not everyone cares about her pain.

My intention now:
  • Find a chair that is easy and comfortable to sit on.
  • Regard her or him with tenderness.
  • Sit and breathe.

Do I want to be right or happy? It doesn't matter. By getting ego out of the picture, right and wrong dissolve into the flow of life.



A link to an XKCD toon about being right.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Conditioning

water pot


When I walk, my body starts to walk itself after I have gone a certain distance. For the first ten minutes or so, I can feel the effort in the movement, but then, it just opens up and the effort is gone. My body seems to think, “Oh, THIS is what you want to do !” and does it for me. The body itself seems to develop a memory.

The trick is to make all this work for us rather than against us.

Think not lightly of good, saying,
'It will not come to me.'
Drop by drop is the water pot filled.
Likewise, the wise man,
gathering it little by little,
fills himself with good.
 — Dhammapada 122 –



First published August 2008 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 12

Sunrise bluerocks1 j

Lesson 12:

This is the last lesson.

As we explore this interaction with nature, we may discover that the "I" who calls is the "I" who responds. We may see that when we disrespect a tree, we disrespect ourselves. We may discover that we really are one.

Apple tree:

"When you ask us to tell you about our energy, we will tell you. But a true knowing comes from the realization that there is no apple or human that is separate from each other. They are both different points of attention of the same all-encompassing consciousness."

Our relationship with nature is a partnership. We can not listen as a parent to a child or as a child to a parent. When we listen with our hearts, we listen differently.

"Hear not the sound, but the silence that surrounds it. See not the form, but the space of which it was formed. All Life is the Diversity of One. "

As we begin to feel the rhythms of life and move with them, we may begin to get a sense of the rightness - the perfection - of this expression. We may begin to realize that our whole being is as perfect as any flower, as perfect as a mountain, as perfect as a minnow, or as perfect as a bumblebee.

What this was like for me:

Talking with nature has changed my life and continues to change it every day. It enhances, me, empowers me and humbles me. It's joyful. It's fun. It's affirming.

I hope you find it as much fun as I have.

The Spring:
"Walk in light and your walk becomes a blessing. Walk in love and your walk is a gift. Walk in meditation and your walk becomes sacred. Laugh with us as we dance beside you on your walk. Play with us as you walk in light. Sing with us and hear our song of joy and laughter. Rise from the clouds of unawareness to the light of conscious understanding. Let your light shine as you walk with us. Let your light shine as you talk with the people you talk with, as you drive your car, as you greet your friends, as you touch your child. Allow us to give you our gift of laughter and light and joy. Allow us to bless you. You are worthy. Each and every one of you is worthy of the highest love, the highest light, the highest blessing. Dance with us, if just for a moment, and feel our blessing wash through you. We are the Spirits of the Spring. Dance with us."
Further reading:

The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird Harper, ISBN: 9780060915872
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, ISBN: 9780060953027
When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff and Susan McCarthy, ISBN: 9780385314282
The Healing Energy of Trees, by Patrice Bouchardon, ISBN: 9781885203717



Back to Introduction

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism -11

raccoon

Lesson 11:

In the last lesson, you worked with your commitment to your connection with nature. This lesson will be all outdoors.

Exercise:

Today, you will move to another aspect of nature. You may be with your tree if you like, but today's focus will be on something else. Choose an animal, a flower, the wind, water the stars, a grove of trees, a lake or any other area you are drawn to and connect as you have with the tree you chose. Take as long as you need to make the connection. Allow yourself to notice distractions or difficulties. And when you do, move through them and back to the intent to connect. If you found yourself captivated by one aspect of nature and then lost it, try another.

You may be relieved that this exercise has come up because something else has been calling to you for some time.

Notice that the connection can be made in the same way as you have used before. But the intention and invitation is different. The way of the connection may be different, too. If you have been a witness to your tree, you may find yourself a participant in the energy you select this time, or vice versa.

The differences in the feel of energies may be subtle or profound. Work with them however they present themselves to you. Allow it to be whatever it is and record your experiences.

Journal:

How did you make out with this? Did you find it as easy, or tougher? What did you do that was different that made this new connection possible?

What this was like for me:

I found that choosing something different can feel very different. The wind feels different than the gentle energy of a lily. Moving water feels different than a hawk. But underneath it all, I feel a sense of divinity, of love, of grace and beauty.

Taken to their lowest common denominator, they remind me that we are all one.

Questions others have asked:

Q. Is this work with nature really going to amount to much in the grand scheme of things?

A. Yes. I think so. You are putting energy into something loving, compassionate and inherently divine. I feel that this can do nothing but add to the high energies already present in the world. As you stand with nature, you may come to know this for yourself. You may see that each and every part of nature, including yourself is important.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



Back to Introduction

Lesson 12 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism -10

wren

Lesson 10:

In the last lesson you were given another method for communication and you explored a few other aspects of where your awareness can go when communicating with nature. In this lesson we will explore ways to deepen your commitment to this connection to nature.

Tailor it to our needs:

We may have an affinity for one specific aspect of nature: a certain plant or tree, animal or mineral and find that a simple thought of that tree brings up a joyful feeling. A thought of cedar may be immediately warming or a thought of buttercup may be immediately playful. We may find the wind to be immediately cleansing, or water, clearing. We can use the affinity to make the connection deeper and easier. If a thought of our favourite tree comes up during breakfast, we can stop for a sec and savour it. Enjoy it. Feel it. Bring it in. Allow it to nourish us somehow.

Get out there as often as is joyful:

Finding the time each day can make a big difference. This course is only 12 days and I have heard that it takes 21 days to set in a new habit. If it works for you, maybe you'd like to extend this course to a full month so that the habit can become more set. Or repeat it 2 more times. Or make a habit of taking a breather outside each day. This Five Breath Meditation can help:

Your usual morning routine plays a part in this meditation. Choose a time when you normally step outside - whether it's for a breath of air first thing after waking up, or when you are rushing out to work.

1 Stop and take a conscious breath. Notice the weather without having an opinion about it. Feel the temperature and movement of the air on your cheeks.

2 Take a second conscious breath. Listen for a moment without having an opinion about the sounds. Birdsong, traffic, whatever.

3 With your third conscious breath, remember that you are connected to all around you - all things around you sharing this space and time.

4 With your fourth conscious breath, appreciate something in your environment. It doesn't have to be big. It could be something as simple as the colour of a leafy tree or as mundane as the scent of your morning coffee.

5 By this time you may be feeling a sense of grace and connection and quiet joy with your day. So with your fifth conscious breath, intend to carry the feeling and memory of this sense of grace and joy with you through your day.

Get other resources.

There are places and people who are involved in this activity that offer more resources. It becomes easier to commit when we have someone to share it with.

Have fun with it!

As long as talking with nature is fun to do, you will want to get out there often and find ways to play with this skill. Give your imagination free rein and see how many innovative ways you can integrate these new skills with current hobbies, interests and passions.

Become aware of how much it improves your life.

Mark a day 1 month, 6 months or a year from now on your calendar to see what your life is like. See how this contact with nature has enhanced it. Some people find value in keeping a journal of life changes. This may be an option for you.

Exercise:

Sit at the foot of the tree you have greeted in each lesson. Greet it again. Be fresh about it. It can not be done by rote. Feel again the love, humility. As you approach this communication, notice what posture you tend to hold as you open to the energy of the tree. Notice how you best prepare for this and how you settle into it. See if any of the techniques of the others have worked for you.

Make contact with your tree and jot down your impressions in your journal.

While in contact with your tree today, decide how much of your time or energy you can honestly commit to this work and tell your tree about it. Be honest with yourself. If you want to commit but are afraid that you might not be able to live up to promises, say so. If you can devote some time every day or week, state your intentions clearly. If you are enjoying the course but don't feel ready to make any commitment at all yet, then say so. It's all fine. Everything in your connection with nature is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace. You may want to mark a date in the future to give it all another try.

Right now, in this moment, if you are enjoying your contact with your tree, then say so. That is a commitment in itself.

Journal:

As well as your impressions, ask yourself how ready were you to commit to this? Do you see this changing? If you see it changing, how would that change your statement today to your tree in nature?

What this was like for me:

I have found that sometimes it takes just the littlest thing to renew my commitment to my work in nature. Obvious things that renew my commitment are offering a course like this or updating my website with fresh material. Another obvious thing for me is the joy I feel when I connect. It's habit-forming. I love it. I miss it when I don't get to it. But there are other little things I'll tell you about in three small stories that have gven me greater incentive to commit:

Gray Pebble Story

I have a stone. A small grey pebble. It's smooth and tiny and I love the feel of it's smooth surface in my hand. I found this pebble at Wasaga Beach on a fine day. The sun was shining with the heat and energy of high summer. The fresh water from this huge lake rolled in, in waves that splashed in high refreshing particles. The energy was high, cheerful and refreshing that day as the pebble called to me and asked me to bring it home. When I picked up the pebble, I closed my eyes and relished the feeling of high, refreshing energy. Then I put the pebble in my pocket and brought it home. Any time I want, I can hold that small grey pebble and feel my energy levels resonating with the high energy of the sun and water and wind that day at the beach. Each time I use the pebble and connect I an renewing my commitment.

Little Brown Bird Story

When I was on a retreat a while back, I needed to get down from a long walk I had taken up a ridge in the forest to the meditation hall for the next sitting. I had 10 minutes and didn't know if I could make it so I relaxed and decided just to go and hope for the best. As I started down the steep hill, a small bird lit on a branch on my left. A little brown bird. I said hello to it, delighted to have the company. As I went down, it flew from branch to branch, landing always on a branch just ahead of me and to my left - that was until I got to a spot where I thought I needed to veer right in order to get the shortest way to the bottom. The little brown bird hopped to a branch a short distance away in another direction. Should follow the bird, or head the way I thought I should? I followed the bird. And in the end, it led me the shortest way possible to the hall.

Flower Essence Story

I needed poplar flowers for flower essences and knew they were in bloom. So I headed off to a location quite a way off that I knew had blooms. But they were too few and too high up. I recalled another stand of poplar trees in a field closer to my home and wondered if I'd collect any there. It was a nice day, so results were not important. The stand of poplars was large, but again there were mostly male trees and no blooms within reach. But just as I turned to go home, a cardinal lit on a branch nearby. As I watched, it hopped to another tree a short distance away in another direction from where I would have normally gone. I wondered if it was a sign. Just then, another bird, a small brown bird, lit on the same branch as the cardinal had been on a moment before. As I watched, it flew to the branch right beside the cardinal and lit there. Okay, so this HAD to be a sign. I didn't know what they were showing me but they were giving me a direction. I walked that direction and before I knew it, I found a poplar tree the right gender reclining near the ground. It was healthy and it had flowers right beside the path at waist level. And just as I was about to reach for the flowers, a movement from the corner of my eye caught my attention. A coyote trotted briskly and easily along a path a short distance away. It was a great moment.

Questions others have asked:

Q. How do I learn to trust my inner self? At what point is there a true response? And how does one recognize it? Is it my own mind? Am I imagining something my heart so badly wants to hear?

A. Sometimes it is just your imagination. But the trick there is to allow the energy of that imaginative, creative thought carry you to wherever it goes. It stops being yourself and starts being something much more. If your ego is involved, trying to direct, control or otherwise manipulate the experience for whatever reasons, then you know your intellect has not yet released its hold enough. You can help with that by giving it other work to do, such as asking it to keep close track of the experience and then helping you work with the information you get. If it knows that its job is to deal with information no matter where the source, then it has lots to do and will allow the information to rise from the experience.



Back to Introduction

Lesson 11 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 9

Boyne River

Lesson 9:

In the last lesson, you began to develop your individual technique for your connection. In this lesson, you will be given another method for communication and you will explore a few other aspects of where your awareness can go when communicating with nature.

Stream gives us a graphic illustration of how you can use your imagination to push your consciousness off on the wave of another energy.

"I am the Stream. When you imagine floating along my current, you imagine having your eyes closed and feeling the water buoy you up, carry you along - feeling the chill of it on your skin, the warmth of the sun on your face. This is how you imagine it would feel if you were carried by me. You have left your sense of sight behind for the moment. Delve into this a little further. Imagine yourself continuing to be carried. What other things come into your field of awareness as you are being carried along? At some point, you may find that you don't seem to be making it up any longer. It seems to be coming of its own accord."

Our consciousness is very malleable. Sometimes, we may allow ourselves to become the aspect of nature that we are communicating with. Spontaneously, consciousness may flash upwards and see life from the vantage point of a bird, or move into a tree to experience what it is to be a tree. For this moment, we are that bird or that tree. Moments of clarity like this help us realize that all that talk about oneness is really true.

Good communication takes trust and it takes an ability to let go. It has to be fun, playful. It's a bit like sex in that it's an activity in which we relax, we focus our attention and let ourselves be carried with the experience. When we are done with sex, we know we'll drop right back into the real world. The same happens after an experience of clarity or communion.

Our consciousness is often more flexible than we realize. One day while out by the pond, I wondered how well I could communicate with nature since I had a bad case of laryngitis. I was using a voice recorder those days. Once I moved into the state of communication and started to speak, a distant part of me was aware that my voice was becoming clear and normal. The hoarseness was vanishing. But the second the session ended, I was dumped back into this reality along with a voice that could barely do better than a whisper. We just don't realize how flexible our consciousness can be.

However, we need to take care not to con ourselves. We need some sort of marker to tell us if it's just our ego speaking or if what we perceive is of high quality. One way to tell is to look at what information might have come through. If there is any sense of fear, of lack, of worry or strife, if there is any sense of ill-will or anger or defensiveness, then we're probably having a conversation with our ego and not with nature. My experience of higher wisdom is that it doesn't control us or tell us what to do or make judgements. For me, the high energies of angels, nature spirits and devas always have an essential tone of respect, compassion, love and acceptance. They affirm the divinity of all things and people. They offer empowerment, unlimited choice and support. They raise us up.

More on techniques:

In the last lesson you played with finding your own method of connection. To make it truly your own, I suggest that you observe your own process and posture. And if you need more, here's the method that was suggested by Mentor to Meredith Young-Sowers to connect with the energy of a specific plant or species of plant in "Agartha":

1. Sit quietly in a pleasing place, close to the spirit you want to contact. Realize that this is possible.

2. Picture the plant as closely as possible in your mind this serves as an invitation. Then comes quiet acceptance.

3. Let the picture of the plant drift away and in its place appear whatever representation the plants energy wishes to put forth. It makes room for the form the plant wants to take. The response can be very delicate: a sense of pressure somewhere on the body, a waft of colour before your closed eyes. If you feel as though someone has slipped their hand in yours even though there is no one there, don't dismiss.

4. Repeat however often you need to establish a link and keep the link in use.

Exercise:

Sit at the foot of the tree you have greeted in each lesson. Greet it again. Be fresh about it. It can not be done by rote. Feel again the love, humility. As you approach this communication, notice what posture you tend to hold as you open to the energy of the tree. Notice how you best prepare for this and how you settle into it. See if any of the techniques of the others have worked for you.

Make contact with your tree and jot down your impressions in your journal.

Journal:

As well as your impressions, ask yourself if you think it might be easier for you to "become" the energy you contact or observe it as a witness to it. What steps can you take to make this so?

Review the important attitudes to bring into the communication like relaxation, mindfulness, joy, curiosity, inventiveness, imagination, and humility. See if you tend to leave one out or forget it. Ask yourself what you can do to remember it next time and see yourself doing that.

What this was like for me:

My main concern at one point was authenticity. I didn't want to fool myself or anyone else. Sometimes when I thought I was connecting with a tree, I'd discover it might have been a bird. So I asked what to do about this.

Redpoll: "Our words vary in their texture, in their characteristics, for each carries a different focus, a different feeling-tone, as different sense of being, a different song. So listen then, as we talk to you as spring, as apple, as the earth, or as we speak to you as you."

We are each unique. No one else's Song is quite the same. That is why, I believe, that no matter how well we clear our energies and how well we move into our divine space, we do not always get the same messages from nature as other people. When two people listen to a symphony, one may hear the percussion and another may hear the strings. But they are both listening to the same symphony. You will find when you compare what you hear with others, that the tune may be different, but the essence of the messages you get is the same.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I hear people talking about how the Earth has feelings and that she cries in sorrow because of how we have treated her. You said that any information from nature had no sense of good and bad. Is the information about the earth crying ego based?

A. While it's true that our activities are, at times, a hardship to the earth it's unclear that she feels any emotion about it at all. How can we know what the earth feels when our world view is limited to the karma we have brought into this life? For example, being human, I can't know what it's like to think like a dog. I can empathize. I can guess. I can speculate. I can observe. But I'm not a dog, so I can't really fully "get" how Rover thinks. We can get glimpses of the unknown. In meditation, we sometimes rise above our limitations long enough to feel/know something different. But even then, unless we have some sort of framework to put a new experience in, we can't fully know.

In the end, if we respond to someone's phrase that 'the earth cries' in a way that opens us, then it doesn't matter whether the tears are real or a human projection. What matters is our love.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



References and further reading:
Agartha, by Meredith Young-Sowers, ISBN: 9780345362773


Back to Introduction

Lesson 10 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 8

RoadsideField

Lesson 8:

In the last lesson you began to learn the actual techniques people have used for talking with nature. You also opened to communicate with the tree you chose early in the course. In this lesson, you will learn how to tell how real this communication is. You will also work on your individual technique for your connection.

There is no getting away from the fact that communication of this nature is subjective. You are unique and so your connection will be yours and yours alone. Yo can pick up tidbits here and there and use guidelines to develop your skills, but in the end, you will need to find your own approach.

This is the process I use when connecting with nature:

1. I find a comfortable place to stand outdoors where I will not likely be disturbed for a short while. I relax and take a breath to put myself in the moment.

2. I take note of what is happening with all my senses: the smells, the feel of the air on my cheeks, the temperature, the light or dark, the sounds.

3. I allow a heartfelt sense of appreciation to rise in me: for the trees and sky and wind and whatever comes to mind. I feel these beings are sentient and may know a lot more about things than I do.

4. I listen with my whole body, my skin, without expecting to see or hear anything. I just relax in this open, relaxed state of alertness and become curious to see what, if anything, comes along.

This whole process tends to put me more in the right space to make the qualities of wonder and a sense of oneness and joy to be the basis for the connection. Then, when I notice the call of a crow, I sometimes realize it is me calling. When I feel the wind, it can be a playmate. I sometimes feel myself fill with the energies of the things around me. A beaver is not just an animal, it seems to be a movement, a dance. A pine tree seems to be a song or a colour or a shape.

If I am getting something and can't put it into words, I change my frame of reference, I ask if this was a colour, what colour would it be? If it was a movement, how would that be? And so on.

If I have a topic that has been troubling me or a question to ask, I put out the question and wait. It may come as a sudden inspiration, as a feeling or a concept. Or it may wait for another time.

Exercise:

Sit at the foot of the tree you have greeted in each lesson. Greet it again. Be fresh about it. It can not be done by rote. Feel again the love, humility.

Go through the steps I outlined above in your own connection to your tree. Use my steps or the steps that the others have used. Or make up your own.

Notice what posture you tend to hold as you open to the energy of the tree. It has been said that in ancient societies, different ritual postures were used to open communication with other worlds. If you are having some difficulty, move around a little and try some different positions. If you have been sitting, stand in a relaxed manner. Or vice versa. Sometimes just a tilt of the head in a slightly different way can open things up.

Journal:

Go over the specific steps you take to tune into this tree. Jot them down. Have you noticed that you tend to miss something? Do you find that some steps seem to be more crucial to you than others? If you were to forget all the steps and just go out into nature, would you be able to find that space in your awareness to connect? Are you finding it easier to stand or sit? Did you have to adjust your posture?

What this was like for me:

I found that after a while, I did not need to consciously think of the steps in connecting with nature. If it wasn't quite right, I'd start again from the beginning and see if that helped. While I have found it important to get all these things in place, I have also found it may be just as important to forget it all and allow myself to become swept up in the experience of being nature. The ritual of going though the steps, like any ritual, helps me remember what I need to remember, but the rest is up to a power larger than me.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I'm still stuck. I haven't been able to connect. What can I do? Is it me? Will I ever be able to do this?

A. At a retreat I held some years ago, one of the participants kept looking for messages from the trees or birds or the river, but ended up being followed around the meadow by a cloud of gnats. Their chaotic energy annoyed her and she spent a lot of time trying to make them vanish. When she asked me in frustration for help, I wondered if maybe the gnats were saying something to her. They sure seemed persistent. The idea hadn't occurred to her. Once she relaxed, she found that their activity itself told her something she would otherwise not have heard.

By letting it be all right not to have anything happen, you may relax enough to hear the message that's coming in the back door. In the end, if all you ever get is a peaceful feeling by being in the presence of a great tree, then maybe that is enough.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



References and further reading:
Ecstatic Body Postures by Belinda Gore, ISBN: 9781879181229


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Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



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Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 7

bluebird

Lesson 7:

In the last lesson you found out who can talk with nature and if there are any good times for it. You also had an exercise in sensing energy, which expanded upon the exercises you have completed in focus and concentration. In this lesson we begin to learn the actual techniques people have used for talking with nature.

In all methods there seem to be common attitudes and conditions that I have found can help:

Making time for it: The more time we spend in nature, the better, as far as communication goes. It takes practice.

Inventiveness: If you have trouble coming up with fine qualities with which to view a particularly pesky insect, try finding one or two and then looking up more in a thesaurus. As you warm up to the practice, it improves.

Humility: In many of our cultures and societies, we have been raised to believe that since we are on the top of the food chain, we are superior to other aspects of nature. Yet I have found that each aspect of nature has something to tell us if we will listen. We need humility to listen. Our contact with nature is an exchange of ideas. Some people who talk with nature suggest that this humility is the most important ingredient to success.

Lightheartedness: Joy, humour, play and fun open our energies in ways that nothing else can. We came into this world full of eagerness to explore, learn and play as though life were meant to be fun. By approaching nature with a sense of fun, I feel we bring that deep wellspring of love and creativity into all the events and situations that we meet.

Belief: Remembering it is in us all. I feel this is our birthright.

Eagerness: We will need to be open to the potential changes that this connection can bring about. There is no doubt that this can change us.

Imagination: A creative imagination can help too, as you may have discovered with the earlier exercises. It can be difficult to put these experiences into a framework that is understandable at first. Through the doorway of imagination we connect, and through the use of imagination we can make sense of what we perceive.

Openness - Curiosity: When we listen to nature, our perceptions may be random, scattered fragments of thoughts which when put together add up to a communication. Or they may be tactile, visual or auditory. First efforts may see information flood in, or it may come in at barely a trickle. Our imagination and experience weave together to create a unique experience for each of us based on our unique framework of beauty and understanding. So it helps to be curious. To wonder. What it will be like?

Gratitude: Appreciating what is happening opens us to more of the same. I have found that the more we give, the more we get.

Techniques:

J Allen Boone suggest that these are the steps he uses for connecting with animal energy in his book "Kinship With All Life":

1. Search for the finer qualities in the animal with the aid of a dictionary or thesaurus 2. Study what the animal does with those qualities in his moment to moment living

In "The Deva Handbook", Nathaniel Altman gives us these guidelines for connecting with Nature:

1. Have a flexible timetable. Make sure that you have adequate time to spend several hours on your visit, which should be for as long as you feel comfortable. If possible, leave your watch at home.

2. Approach the place you are visiting with a spirit of friendliness and silent receptivity. Devas do not generally respond well to loud, sudden noises. They are often afraid of humans, who are the primary destroyers of the devas' natural world. So walk softly and gently.

3. Relax and "settle in." Take the time to become aware of the tremendous variety of living beings in the area: the larger and smaller plants, the flying and creeping insects, the birds and other mammals, the rocks, the waves and other natural forms.

4. Strive to use as many senses as possible. Smell the flower. Touch the tree. Listen to the insects, the birds, and the wind. Allow the water to run through your fingers. Take the time to carefully observe the life around you. Place your focus on what attracts your attention and allow your innate curiosity to guide your observation. If you are looking at a tree, examine it carefully, from the roots to the leaves. Observe how it moves in the wind. See the rustle of the leaves and the texture of the bark. Observe the shape of the branches and the leaves. Remember that using your sense of sight does not need to involve thinking, evaluating, or analyzing. It involves simple visual observation. Now close your eyes and use your other senses to learn more. Listen to the rustle of the leaves. Touch the trunk and branches and feel the texture of the bark. Press your nose against the tree and smell the bark. Lean against the tree and feel its energetic presence.

Another activity involves simply going to a place of your choice (such as a patch of grass among taller plants, a clearing by a stream, or a clearing surrounded by trees). Lie down comfortably on your back and look up at the sky. As you take some deep, relaxing breaths, strive to feel as though you are actually merging or becoming what you are lying upon. Listen to the sounds. You may also want to close your eyes and use other senses to commune with your environment.

All those who have made suggestions seem to bring these basic steps into the process:

1. Bring an attitude of respect, gratitude, love and humility.

2. Find a place that is appropriate and become totally aware of it using all 5 senses.

3. Become aware of your own energy.

4. Invoke your intent to connect with nature and to realize your oneness with nature. Make this intent clear.

5. Open to receive anything that the nature spirits will send your way.

6. Thank the spirits.

7. Keep the link in use.

Exercise:

With all the above in mind, and after reviewing the material we have covered to date, go out to your tree and make a connection. By now you will have established a relationship with the tree.

It is important to keep a sense of play about the whole issue. If you get too caught up in whether or not it's provable or real, you can lose the sense of wonder and imaginative creative play that brings the highest results. It's also important to let the connection be what it is. If you push, you'll lose it. You're better to sit back and allow it to happen.

Journal:

Jot down what you experienced in your connection with your tree.

What this was like for me:

Each time I go out to listen to nature, I have a different experience. There are times when things seem to flow beautifully and other times when I seem to have a head full of worries or distractions. Sometimes, when I go out, expecting to get more information about a topic I have been discussing with nature, I get the strong impression that this is not the right time or day for that. Instead, it seems right just to bask in the joy of being a part of all this greatness. At times, I seem to feel as though I am being carried along the current of the stream and at other times, I am a witness to impressions and sensations that I can't put easily into words. Sometimes, I feel like I'm making it all up and other times, the words pour out of me so quickly I can barely keep up.

I have found that anything we experience in nature is perfect for that moment.

Questions others have asked:

Q. How can I remember to go through all those steps when connecting with nature?

A. You will find that after a while it is automatic. When you get a sense that something is not quite right, just review your steps.

Q. Native Americans always leave an offering when working with nature. Shouldn't I do that, too?

A. That's up to you. Whatever you feel is right for you. Offerings are about showing respect and gratitude when out in nature. John MIlton suggests that we leave something behind when we are out in nature as a show of gratitude. Something we really like, like chocolate. It's up to you.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



References and further reading:
Kinship With All Life by J Allen Boone, ISBN: 9780060609122
The Deva Handbook, by Nathaniel Altman, ISBN: 9780892815524
Sky Above, Earth Below by John P Milton, Recordings, Sounds True



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Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 6

Violet

Lesson 6:

In the last lesson, you looked at some more reasons why we might want to talk to nature. In this lesson you will find out who can talk with nature and if there are any good times for it. You will also have a meditation in sensing energy, which expands upon the exercises you have completed in focus and concentration.

Who Can Talk to Nature?

Anyone can. If we have ever been drawn to a certain tree or rock or pond, we have been in communion with it at some level. If we have ever sat in comfort under a tree and sighed our relief, we have been allowing its energies to mix with ours. We felt union with nature as kids. It is possible to recapture that. Perhaps we have just forgotten how.

When can we do this?

Do we have to set aside a special time or place? I don't think so. This work can be done while waiting for the bus, mowing the lawn, watching out the window. All we need is the intent and will - and maybe a bit of practice.

You'll need a houseplant for your next meditation. You can do this meditation immediately a before your task in nature or along with your task. Read it through and then decide how you want to handle it. This meditation is about sensing energy. You may discover that you have been sensing unseen energy all the time, but have never quite brought that fact fully into your awareness.

If you don't have a houseplant, use a stone.

1. Find a comfortable spot to sit, somewhere in your home and get a good feel for your energy. Take as long as you need to relax, get centred and become aware of the Song of Your Being. Put your houseplant nearby, but not so close that it interferes with your ability to listen to your Soul's Song.

2. Make a mental note of what your energy is like at the time.

3. Now pick up the houseplant and set it down in front of you. Greet it and thank it for being with you. Get into that same feel of love and affection that you have for the tree you have chosen outdoors. Recognize the beauty of the plant. Recognize and value the living energy of it.

4. Thoroughly get a feel for the energy of the plant in whatever way seems appropriate for you. Take as much time as you need. This houseplant resonates with certain tone in your own energy field. How does the feel of this differ from the feel you had earlier in the exercise when you were simply sitting in the Song of Your Being?

Exercise:

Take this exercise out into nature and repeat it with the tree you have chosen to work with in this course. Make a note of any differences, insight or ideas you had.

Journal:

How did you make out with this? Jot down what you noticed in the energies of the houseplant and tree as they differed from your own energies. Put it into words as best you can. Don't worry about how it sounds. It can be difficult to describe. We don't have words in English for much of these feelings or perceptions.

What this was like for me:

I discovered that what I was consciously doing here was something I'd unconsciously done all my life. If you've ever driven through a small town that made you want to lock the car doors, you will see that this is something you also have done all your life. Another town might have nice enough energy that you want to stop there for a bit. Although I found it hard to put into words, there was a noticeable difference in the feel of the houseplant when I turned my attention to it and became aware of it.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I don't know how to describe what I felt. I didn't get words, but noticed something.

A. It really helps to change your frame of reference when trying to describe these feelings or sensations. Ask yourself, if this was a colour, what colour would it be? If it was a dance, would it be a tango, a waltz or ballet? If it was a song, what kind of music would it sing? If it was a sense of movement, describe the movement. Does it bubble or does it explode outwards? What direction does it seem to move? When people have done this course with me in my home they often describe the African Violet as having a round sort of feeling or a sweet way about it. They describe the Aloe Vera as explosive. Its energy seems to move quickly outwards in a happy burst of movement.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



Back to Introduction

Lesson 7 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 5

Woolybear

Lesson 5:

In the last lesson you began to develop focus. You also learned some higher reasons why we might want to talk to nature. In this lesson we will continue with that topic and also cover some more practical reasons for talking to nature.

Higher Reasons

Synthesis of Man and Nature

We are a part of nature whether we like it or not. And while many of us have been raised to believe that our physical nature is lesser than our spiritual nature, I have found that I have better success at connecting with the spiritual when I am fully in the physical. I have come to feel that our physical being is an aspect of our spirituality, that we are our spirit, expressed in the physical.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

By working with nature this way, we get a deeper sense of the harmonics and rhythms in nature. Seeing energy rather than form gives us a better perspective of how things are, who we are and how things work.

"Lost in awe at the beauty around me, I must have slipped into a state of heightened awareness. It is hard, impossible really, to put into words, the moment of truth that came upon me suddenly then. Even the mystics are unable to describe their brief flashes of spiritual ecstasy. it seemed to me, as I struggled afterwards to recall the experience, that self was utterly absent. " - Jane Goodall
Being in the Moment

A full appreciation of the present moment is a wonderful gift we can give ourselves. How many moments have we allowed to pass us by, while we were busy worrying bout the future or reliving the past. There is magic in the present moment. By taking the time to be fully present in Nature, we open ourselves to that magic.

"I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself. the air was filled with a feathered symphony, the evensong of birds. I heard new frequencies in their music and also in the singing insect voices. Notes so high and sweet, I was amazed. Never had I been so intensely aware of the shape, the colour of individual leaves, the varied patterns of the veins that made each one unique. Scents were clear as well, easily identifiable. Fermenting over-ripe fruit, waterlogged earth, cold, wet bark, the damp odour of chimpanzee hair, and yes, my own, too. and the aromatic scent of young criushed leaves was almost overpowering. I sensed the presence of a bush buck, then saw him, quietly browsing upwind, his spiralled horns gleaming and his chestnut coat dark with rain." - Jane Goodall
More Practical Reasons

Animals for Food

Our current farming practices seem to have moved far away from a direct interaction with nature. When we move back towards a way of respect, we may find many delightful possibilities to explore. Livestock could be asked if or how they wish to contribute in a way that is healthy for them. We may no longer need to collect food through domination or a sense of separateness. Eventually we could have a day when we are all partners.

In some ancient cultures, I have heard that a ritual was used to call animals to them - animals who were willing to be used for whatever purposes the people had in mind. The animals gave their consent.

Yet this is not as distant as we may think. Michael Roads speaks of several experiences he had in speaking with animals. He writes:

"My commitment to the task hadn't happened all at once. It had unfolded like fate over the years during my life as a farmer. I can look back now and recognize the stages.

It began with my wife, Treenie.

One evening, while sitting relaxed in our living room, she glanced at me. "The cows want moving," she suddenly announced.

I snorted with indignation. Her statement seemed a challenge, and I responded.

'Right! Just to prove you're wrong, we'll drive up there tomorrow at nine o'clock, and you can see for yourself all the contented cows on plenty of pasture.'

In my smug satisfaction, I burrowed back into my book.

Next morning at nine o'clock, Treenie and I drove up to the back paddock. Shock! Practically the entire herd of cows was standing impatiently at the gate, waiting to be let out."

Pests

Pests do not have to be pests. We can accommodate the needs of all life. I have found that when we hate and fear insects or despise them, they are drawn to us.

Flies can be very playful. If you notice them, you may find one coming back to the same place on your hand over and over. By treating it as a game that you are enjoying, you may see a fly in an entirely different light.

Michael Roads talked about a big pest problem he had with wallabies eating the pasture for his cows. It was common practice to kill wallabies as pests at the time, but fed up with the killing, he decided to try to make a deal with them instead. He said:

"Making such a decision was one thing, but carrying it out was another. ... feeling rather self conscious, prepared myself for an attempt at communication. I held the required agreement clearly in my thoughts, but so silent and remote was the act that I began to verbalize my request. Despite feeling foolish, I felt more positive and comfortable. Warming to my task, I fairly yelled my message to all the wallabies that might listen. It sounded something like this: 'I don't know if you wallabies can hear me, but I am offering an agreement with you by which we each meet our own needs. I am asking you to stop eating our pasture, and in exchange for this I will see to it that nobody shoots you again. However, because I realize I must share this land with you, I will allow you to graze around the outside of the paddock. Please don't take more than twenty yards.' ... Within only a few weeks, the pasture was thickening so rapidly that I was able to introduce an extra ten cows and calves. It continued to improve. Soon I had ninety cows and calves grazing over Carvilla, while the white clover grew in abundance. For three years we maintained this tenuous agreement, the pastures continuing to thrive and flourish. ... One fact which emerged was obvious. We were able to communicate our wishes to the wildlife and reach an agreement for our mutual benefit. We recognized their divine right to life, realizing that cooperation with Nature offers unlimited potential."
Work Animals

Animals we use in our work seem to love to be needed. Direct intuitive interaction with these animals may give us tools to increase our productivity. It can help to know that an animal is tired, so we can give it the rest it needs. Horses working in a team could get the positions on the team which suit them best. All aspects of the animals life and care could be addressed with this direct communication.

Crops

Our food crops could be asked to produce what we need. They could be asked what they need to be healthy and happy.

Gardens

Our gardens could be designed according to the nature of the area, the weather, the climate, the soil. The plants themselves might tell us how much room they need, where in the garden they will flourish and how much water they need. This is what went on in Findhorn, where Dorothy Maclean and the others built a rich garden on sandy, barren, northern Scottish soil.

Many people do their gardening intuitively, already tapping in, in some measure, to the community of nature around them. Talking with nature can deepen this intuitive connection.

Trees

We could ask fruit trees to withdraw their energy for pruning or ask if they would rather not be pruned. When transplanted, we could keep the energy doorway we talked about earlier in trees facing the same compass direction, and we could ask the trees to withdraw their energy until the move is complete. We could even can ask the tree where it wants to be.

Metals

Metals are not always thought of as living things, but I have heard that they carry the consciousness of the Earth. When I treat them as sentient, I find that when doing plumbing, welding or building, things seem to go better.

Rocks and Crystals

Much has been written about how minerals can be used to enhance certain properties or qualities in our energies. Many are used for healing.

Wildflowers and Herbs

Wildflowers and herbs have been used for centuries in healing. An intuitive understanding of the qualities of these plants could help us know what might assist us at any time. Flower Essences follow this principle.

Insects

Insects could be asked to co-operate with us. Picnic ants might leave !

Conservation

We may not always know what we're doing, but I feel that there is an intelligence in nature. When we both work towards a common goal of harmony and balance, conservation work can become effortless and things can flow more easily.

Attunement

Attunement with the world around us allows us to consciously tap into a network of information. Have you ever heard of how dogs behave in an odd manner before a tornado or an earthquake? We could be that aware. We could know when a storm is coming.

In this lesson you will do another meditation in focus and concentration. This exercise will not only help you learn to focus your attention but gives you a good way to learn how to use visualization and your imagination to play with energy. Play with this one. It is meant to be fun.

You may wish to record it and play back the recording or have a friend read it to you so that you can move through it without distraction.

Red Bird Meditation

1. Imagine if you will, that you are in a forest or a park and that above you, in a tree, is a small red bird. This bird can look in any way you want it to look. Take the time, though, to see it clearly in your imagination with as much detail as you can. You do not have to see this red bird. Just imagining it is enough to give you a feel for it. Note its position in the tree. Keep your attention on the bird throughout this entire exercise.

2. Now watch this bird as it lifts off gently from the branch moving from its first position to a spot on another tree a short distance away.

3. Watch this little red bird fly back and forth until you feel comfortable with the action and can follow with ease as it flies from tree to tree. Keep your attention on the red bird. If you lose your focus or let your attention drift, find the red bird again and start where you left off. Allow it to come to rest again at its starting place in the first tree.

4. Now watch this red bird as it gently flies from this tree to your left shoulder and lands softly on your left shoulder. You may even feel this soft landing. Enjoy this experience. You are both delighted to be with each other.

5. Keep your attention focused on this little red bird, still, as it flies back to the tree and lands on the branch where it started.

Exercise:

You will begin by repeating your task from the last lesson. Sit or stand with the tree you have chosen. Stay with it or 15 minutes as a minimum. While you are there, evoke that same sense of love and affection as you did before. Do not expect results. Just be with the tree.

Repeat the process of listening to the Song of Your Being. As you did last time, imagine that you are using the pure and beautiful energies of your tree to enhance your ability to move into your own energy.

Keep your attention gently focused on your relationship with the tree, throughout your time with it. When your attention wanders, note what took place and then release it to bring your attention back to your time with the tree.

Journal:

In your notebook, make note of how you'd like to work with nature after you complete this course. What do you see yourself doing? Communicating better with a pet? Using the connection to work more effectively in the garden? Learning to better use your intuitive abilities? Is there anything specific you have in mind? If not, think of something now and jot it down.

By getting this down on paper, you are putting more energy into the idea - and that can make it more possible..

Jot down how you sensed the energy of the little red bird in the exercise. Did you visualize it clearly? Did you get a feeling sense of it? A knowing? Do you have another way of sensing? Was it your imagination only? Describe as best you can how you seemed to get the strongest feel for this bird. This may help you come to know how you sense energy the best.

What this was like for me:

For many years, I had a huge problem with earwigs getting into my house. This made me crazy. Every year they came in by the dozens. Sometimes I'd find nests of them. They got everywhere. I tried threatening them, asking them, pleading with them and ended up spraying the foundation. It still didn't stop them. I didn't want to kill them. I wanted to love them. But how could I when they creeped me out?

After years and years - I'm talking more than 15 years of this - I finally seemed to make peace with them. One day another crawled by my foot as I worked at the computer and as I leaned down to pick it up with a kleenex to take it outside, I actually felt a sort of fondness or affection towards it.

That was the moment things changed. I don't know what made me do it, but I checked that window with the gap in it yet again. I had gone over that gap year after year and it wasn't until that day that I realized the gap was not just a seam in the wood but an actual space that could let, well, earwigs in. I caulked the gap and - no more earwig problem.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I just seemed to see the little bird in my imagination. Is that enough? A. Yes. It is. Imagination is the gateway to intuitive sensing.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.

References and further reading:

Reason for Hope, by Jane Goodall, ISBN: 9780446676137
Talking With Nature, by Michael Roads, ISBN: 9780915811069
To Hear the Angels Sing, by Dorothy MacLean, Findhorn Press, 1980



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Lesson 6 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
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This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 4

lunaria

Lesson 4:

In the last lesson you built upon your ability to get a sense of the Song of Your Being. You also learned more about some of the energies you might encounter in nature. In this lesson I will begin to suggest reasons why we might want to talk to nature.

There are a multitude of reasons why we would want to talk to nature. Some are higher spiritual reasons and some are more practical ones.

Higher Reasons

Seeing Nature as a Mirror

If we go into our experience of nature with the intent of spiritual growth, we may find that it provides us with the results of seeing what we need (and who we are) in the world around us. Remember the reading from 'forest floor'. In that reading with my connection to 'forest floor', it became clear that the darkest places of the forest provide expressions of growth change and movement and that this same principle could be a metaphor for the fears that darken our lives. We can find this metaphor in all the spirits of nature, for they all consist of divine qualities that can resonate with our own. We can take courage from lion, soar with the clarity of vision and perspective of an eagle or walk with the strength and wisdom of elephant. We can allow our lives to flow with the steady rush of water in a stream, we can allow the wind to cleanse our energies and we can take comfort in the steadiness of tide and season.

Connecting More Deeply to Our Spiritual Nature

When we have moments of clarity, we realize that our nature is innately divine, energizing and expanding, compassionate, respectful of all things and appreciative for all we have. Taking the time to reconnect with the world around us can open us to these moments of clarity. Being able to pay attention in a relaxed way when in nature is easier for some of us than others. Yet a focus is needed. I practice meditation every day and this gives me an excellent opportunity to practice focus. But, although it helps, you do not have to be a regular meditator to hold a focus. If you can be absorbed in a good book and let the rest of the world fall away, you already are good at holding a focus.

This exercise is a classic meditation. It can be used as a tool for focus. With continued use, it can provide insight into your life.

1. Find a comfortable position sitting in a chair or on the floor. Keep your head erect on your shoulders, your posture straight. It may help to imagine that an imaginary line is raising the top of your head slightly. Relax your body and close your eyes. Feel this position as one of dignity and compassion. Make it joyful.

2. As you sit, become aware of your breathing. Let your attention feel the in and out of your breath. You may notice it as a coolness in your nostrils or you may notice the gentle rise and fall of your tummy as you inhale and exhale. Allow your breath's rhythm to be whatever it is. Do not force it in any way.

3. After a little while, you will notice that your attention has been diverted to something other than your breath. It could be sound, a thought, a memory, a body sensation. Acknowledge the distraction by giving a name to it, such as "itching", "worrying", "bored" or whatever names it. Then let it pass and return your attention to the breath. All meditators become distracted. It is normal. Just be willing to bring your attention back when you notice that it has wandered.

4. When you are finished, allow your attention to come back gently into the room.

Meditation can be done using an object as your object of focus, such as a favourite stone or plant or a positive quality that you'd like to bring more of into your life. In this case you would notice all the details of this object, size, colour, texture, warmth and all other details.

Exercise:

You will add to your skills today in your time with the tree you have chosen. Sit or stand with the tree you have chosen. Stay with it or 15 minutes as a minimum. While you are there, evoke that same sense of love and affection as you did before. Do not expect results. Just be with the tree.

Repeat the process of listening to the Song of Your Being. As you did last time, imagine that you are using the pure and beautiful energies of your tree to enhance your ability to move into your own energy.

Keep your attention gently focused on your relationship with the tree, throughout your time with it. When your attention wanders, note what took place and then release it to bring your attention back to your time with the tree.

Journal:

In your notebook, notice how easily you were distracted. Remember that distractions are normal. You are not trying to achieve a state of utter absorption. Minor distractions that are noticed right away can give you an indication that you are on the right track.

See if focus is something that comes easily to you. Did you have trouble with this? If so, do you know why? Is there anything you can you do to turn this around?

What this was like for me:

I have never had much trouble with focus or concentration, but I do find myself easily distracted when my life seems to be full of problems. Regular meditation practice has helped me enormously.

Questions others have asked:

Q. How long do I have to be able to focus without distraction?

A. Not as long as you might fear. Length of time in focus, while important, is not as important as the quality of your experience.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.



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Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



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Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 3

forest

Lesson 3:

In the last section you learned how to get a sense of your core self. You also learned a bit about some of the types of energies you might encounter in nature. I will continue that here.

Combined Energies

At the beginning of the course, I mentioned how some devas seem to be over-riding energies of other nature spirits, or over-riding energies of certain places. Nature spirit energies appear to combine in an infinite number of patterns to create blended energies. I also talked about how nature can sometimes seem to have characteristics that we can use to mimic in order to enhance our spiritual growth.

'Forest floor' combines these concepts in this reading:

"Even in the murkiest place, you can find sunlight, nourishment and love. Even in the darkest corners of the forest, in the muddiest underbrush, you find life teeming joyously - expressions of growth, of change, of movement, beauty in the most unexpected ways. Allow yourself to experience this beauty. Explore the darker places in your emotions and thoughts. Explore the pains and negativities in your body, and give thanks for them. For they do have movement, light, growth and joy. All of them, no matter how dark they may seem, are expressions of joy."

Further to what we have covered in being aware of your own energy, read what cedar has said about this:

"Feel the shelter of my branches, not only sheltering you from outside influences, but sheltering you emotionally from the disruptions and chaos of your everyday world. Allow yourself to stand within the bounds of my energy. Allow my energy to be a part of yours and it will warm and nurture you, shelter you and filter outside influences to the point where you can feel what your own energy is."

I have found cedar energy to be warming and nurturing energy. This can help me to find my centre. But this is not limited to cedar. For me, standing in any aspect of nature with attentiveness does the same thing. Any tree, flower, rock or animal will offer the same pure, unconditional love that gives me the space I need to find my centre.

Once I find that space, I seem to be inspired. If you have ever been writing something or working on a project that seems to be flowing so well, it seems to do the work itself, you know you have found that place. When you review the results of your activities later on, you may be astounded that you were able to produce such work in such an effortless fashion. You were inspired.

By finding that place in your centre, you open to all the energies around you that resonate with that. Nature is inspired, and so are you when you allow yourself to let it flow. You are a part of nature after all.

Exercise:

You will begin by repeating your task from the last lesson. Sit or stand with the tree you have chosen. Stay with it or 15 minutes as a minimum. While you are there, evoke that same sense of love and affection as you did before. Do not expect results. Just be with the tree.

Repeat the process of listening to the Song of Your Being. This time, imagine that you are using the pure and beautiful energies of your tree to enhance your ability to become more aware of your own energy.

Journal:

In your notebook, jot down if you found an opportunity since you did the last lesson to get a sense of this energy throughout your day. If you did not, don't worry. Read the next section where questions have been answered. If you did, note if this has changed at all since you started to practice it and in what ways. Has it become easier? Did you use a specific set of steps that seemed to be right for you to bring you to that place?

What this was like for me:

I sometimes still have trouble remembering to get into my centre through the day. I get upset with events and people just as anyone does and it's often long into that feeling of upset that I remember that I don't have to feel that way. The trick is not to get upset with myself for forgetting.

When I do get into the place where I am in the Song of My Being, I enter a state of joyfulness that is difficult to describe. This did not happen instantly for me, but developed over weeks and months. It may actually have been there all along, but I didn't recognize it for what it was. But now, after years of finding that space, and most often finding it while in nature, all I have to do is think about being in nature and I feel a gentle rush of pleasure move into my energy field. This can be a place of great insight, inspiration and clarity of perception since it is my own natural flow. I still wonder at times that a person as ordinary as I am, with all my faults and worries and problems can find this wisdom from within.

Overall, I find that I am a happier person now than I used to be. I believe that this is a direct result of getting to know who I am through meditation, of listening to the Song of My Being.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I have trouble finding the time or space to practice listening to the Song of My Being through the day. It seemed hard for some reason. What can I do?

A. Remember that everything in this course is optional. If it is just too hard, skip it or do something else. But if you feel you need some ideas about how to make it work, there is much you can do.

Picture yourself doing so in the days to come. Be clear about how you can do this when you are stopping during breaks from work, while bathing, while beginning meals, while starting any new task as well as while in the presence of your tree. Seeing places and times when you can realistically do this can help you to open the energy to making it happen. Picture them as thoroughly as you can, using all your senses. What might you be wearing? How might you feel at the time and how does this activity alter that? What room might you be in? Are there other people around? What might the weather be like?

Ask yourself if you have given yourself permission to do this. Do you secretly believe that this is just for someone else and not you? Why? What makes you so non-special? What might you need to do to feel as though it's all right for you to move ahead with this?

Praise yourself when you remember. Really. I mean that literally. Praise yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Be nice to yourself. Practice it now, even if it feels weird. Pat yourself on the back.

Forgetting is utterly natural. You have a lifetime of not remembering behind you and it can take a while to set some new patterns in place.

Keep this in mind throughout the course. It's never too late to set some of these patterns in place. If you feel like you might be falling behind, stop at the lesson you are on and practice for as long as you need before moving on. You know best what your own pace is.

Q. I'm still struggling with the 'forest floor' exercise.

A. In this case, the 'forest floor' is an example of a combination of energies rather than an exercise. In your own experience, there may be a place nearby in which the energies combine to create an energy that seems to be unique to the area - in a special grove of trees, an area with rocks and streams, a special meadow. Whatever combination exists in your area can be used as an example. When I looked at the 'forest floor' that day, that is what I saw and that is what the 'forest floor' said to me. When you look at the 'forest floor', it might say something totally different. Allow it to say what it does to you, for each of us are different. What we see, what we feel, what we understand and what we need to understand is different.



Back to Introduction

Lesson 4 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet

Talking With Nature - A Course in Mysticism - 2

Shelly

Lesson 2:

In the last section you learned what nature spirits are. In this lesson we will elaborate a bit more before getting back out into nature.

Here's a general list of many different kinds of nature spirits and how they seem to relate to us.

Rock, Stone, Crystal Energy

Rock, stone and crystal energy may seem slow-moving but aware. Think of rocks and minerals as living energies whose lives are so slow that we barely notice the change in them. They can often hold special qualities or groups of qualities. It has been said that crystals, for example, tend to amplify the energies around them in specific ways. Crystals vibrate at different frequencies that can sometimes be heard by people. I know of people who can literally hear the tones of crystals in the room with them.

Other minerals carry energies that seem to enhance certain aspects of our own energies. For example, Hematite seems to be a good stone for bringing our energies back to this physical plane. Hematites are great for grounding us when we tend to lift off and their dense flavour seems to act as a buffer or layer of protection around someone wearing it. When I do healing on a person wearing hematite, I find that it can be difficult to work through the dense energy. When they remove the hematite, the healing energy seems to take right off.

I find the energy of rocks and the earth to be sustaining and stabilizing. I feel at home when standing on old rock, like the ancient stone you find in the Canadian Shield.

I can't forget though, that while the energy may seem slow, there is a vibrancy, an aliveness about rock energy that moves more quickly than light.

Tree Energy

Many small children, when exploring the world around them, playact to get a feel for the energies. I can recall vague flashes of childhood recollections of times when I pretended I was tree. For that long instant, I was a tree. I have heard that there is a doorway into the consciousness of tree that arches from the ground to about 18 inches up on one side of the trunk. Stories have been written about entering other realms through doorways such as these.

Seth speaks a bit about the consciousness of life in Nature:

"The tree is of course dissociated in one manner. In some ways its living forces and consciousness are kept to a minimum. It is in a state of drowsiness on the one hand, and on the other hand it focuses the usable portion of its energy into being a tree. The state of consciousness involved here is dull as compared to the highly differentiated human ability in many ways... They feel their growing. They listen to their growing as you listen to your own heartbeat. They experience this oneness with their own growth, and they also experience pain. The pain however while definite, unpleasant and sometimes agonizing, is not of an emotional nature in the same way that you might experience pain. In some ways it is even a deeper thing... it is as if your breath were to be suddenly cut off... Rocks are far from lifeless... Your tree lives through its inner senses, experiencing many sensations and reacting to many stimuli of which you are unaware. Minute earth tremors, even the motion of small ants about its lower trunk, are recognized and experienced by tree consciousness. Such invisibilities as humidity, radioactivity and all electrical earthly values, are felt as quite real things by your tree and recognized as being separate from the tree itself. A tree knows a human being also. Not only for example by the weight of a boy upon its branches, but by the vibrations in the air as adults pass, which hit the tree's trunk at varying distances, and even by such things as voices... The tree does not even build up an image of man. The tree builds up a composite sensation which represents say an individual man. And the same tree will recognize the same man who passes it by each day."

I have found tree energy to be old and wise. Each species of tree seems to carry certain qualities that are inherent in it. Different people who feel the energy of that species of tree may describe the sensations differently but are tending to feel the same essential energies. Oak, for example, feels strong, powerful and even mystical in its ancient wisdom. Willow energy flows with a more graceful and feminine feel to it, and that's not just because of its overall physical appearance.

Plant Energy

Differing plants also carry differing tones. Bach and other great healers recognized this and found that the energies of certain plants tended to resonate well to help restore patterns that needed healing in our own energy fields. Thus the Bach Flower remedies came into existence.

My experience of plant and flower energy is that it tends to be a lighter, bouncier and even more playful energy than tree energy. This is how I perceived buttercup one lovely summer's day:

Play with us. We dance in the sunshine in a summer field, day after day and you don't see us. Come! Play with us!
Indoor Plants

Indoor plants tend harmonize more with the people and energies of their home. They not only hold the energies of their own natures, they also tend to pick up the energies of the home where they live, the conditions they live in and the energies of how much value their owners place on them.

I know a woman with a large plant that had outgrown the aquarium in her home that it shares with the fish. This plant is so closely in tune with this woman's energies that it visibly moves towards her when she walks into the room. When she leaves the room, or when someone else walks in, it visibly withdraws.

Farm Crops and Gardens

Garden crops seem to have a special affinity to the farmers and gardeners who work with them.

Animals and Birds

I have found that animal energy tends to seem more serious than plant energy. As the other energies of nature, they seem to have characteristics that we can use to enhance our spirituality. For example, hawk expressed itself this way to me:

My energy soars on the thermals, takes note of the little things, sees with wide vision, clear vision and takes action with power and strength and beauty. I am hawk. Be like me. Let your energy fly on the thermals, see with acuity and with freshness and allow your beauty to be expressed by taking swift, secure action based on your greater vision.
Work Animals

Work animals can be compared in a way to garden or farm crops. Many seem to be happy to be of service when allowed to express their full nature.

Pets

Pets have a very special relationship with people. In time to come we may not need pets because the qualities they give us will be supplied by ourselves ... companionship, unqualified love and acceptance, good humour, lots of energy. But for now, they happily serve as a reminder of these qualities.

They can also be a true mirror of our emotional and physical state. It is natural for the atmosphere surrounding our personalities to affect them. When we are happy and balanced, we have happy and healthy pets. Their gift to us is enormous.

Insects

My experience of insects is they know nothing of free will but they do possess intelligence. Baby flies even like to play.

One woman described her experience with her son this way:

"My four year old and I were outside this afternoon rooting around in the flower beds cleaning things out for winter. He was so enthralled by the falling leaves and the fact that the trees would "sleep" all winter then wake up and grow leaves again in spring. We planted bulbs and pulled out dead plants and weeds side by side. This kind of time is rare for us as my older son usually demands so much attention that sometimes the younger one gets left out. As we sat there together in the sun, he casually told me that the plants and trees talk to him as do many of the animals around him.

"He says that they "sparkle" and ask him to come and play with them and take care of them. He says that the plants tell him when they want water and to be honest I know that all summer long he has been carrying around a watering can almost as big as he is and seemed to know when the ground was dry. He asked me to watch the ants with him and the two of us lay on our stomachs on the ground beside an ant hill and watched them scurry around carrying things. He tells me that the ants don't talk to him but he knows that they "feel" scared all the time. It is kind of interesting because animals are most definitely drawn to him and we have seen that on so many occasions. He says that it is because he understands what they are saying to him and knows what they want and need.

"We laughed and held hands and played around the trees and he told me that the trees thought that it was a joyful day because we were singing with them. I tend to agree, it was a joyful day for me too."

Working with these energies:

The best place to start is to be as clear and open as possible. Learning to relax is a big part of that. These steps can give you an example to work with, or you can investigate or explore your own.

1. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.

2. Take a deep breath in.

3. Draw the breath right down into your stomach, so that your stomach rises on the in breath. This fills your lungs more completely than shallow chest breathing.

4. Focus on the breath and let it out smoothly and naturally.

5. Feel any tension in your body drain out with the out breath.

6. Take another breath in when your natural inclination is to breathe in. Do not force it. If you've ever watched an animal breathe, you'll notice that none of the breaths are forced, they just come and go with ease.

7. On the in breath, feel the air fill your lungs and imagine the fresh oxygen travelling from your lungs throughout your body.

8. Do this for several breaths. As you do this, call your energies back that are scattered out in the universe.

9. End when you feel refreshed. Try to hold some of this relaxed state for a while, and throughout the day, recall often what this state felt like so that you can easily duplicate it again.

As you go through your day you may find that the thoughts and feelings, the events and circumstances that you experience during your day, add debris to your energy field. Your boundaries become less clearly defined and your energy becomes muddier.

Hawthorn gave us this simple exercise. I call it 'Listening to the Song of your Being'. It can be done at any time and in a few moments, leaving your energy sparkling and clean. Keep keep it handy because you will be using it in this lesson when you go out into nature.

1. Find a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Feel any tension in your body drain out with your breath. Call your energies back that are scattered out in the universe.

2. Now, imagine that you can feel the essence of who you are, deep within the inside of your body. Imagine that there is a dot of light or you could imagine it as a sound like a hum, in the very centre of you and that this represents the source of your power. Imagine it in any place you want. It can be in the centre of your body, your head, your abdomen - anywhere you imagine it to be.

3. This is the source of who you are. Through this source, the essence of who you are - this joyful, loving, playful creative and divine energy - pours into you at a rate faster than you could ever need. This is an unlimited amount of energy from your own source available to you at all times.

4. Take care to notice this song's or this feeling tone's qualities. If it is light, what does the light look like? Is it glowing or sparkling? Does it shimmer? Does it beam radiance? Does it hold any other colours than white? If it is a hum, what does this hum or sound seem to be like? Do you notice any changes in your body along with it? Notice it carefully and imagine it as clearly as you can in your mind's eye or mind's ear. Notice as well how it feels. For many, it feels like a deep profound sense of appreciation - a gratitude for existence that is deeply felt.

5. Feel this Song of Your Being or imagine it to expand slowly outwards in all directions. Watch it expand until this whole sphere of beautiful energy - light or sound - encompasses your entire body. It goes beyond your head and feet. Play gently with the size of this Song around you, drawing in and moving out the dimensions of it to a place that is comfortable. It may be right up against your skin one time and the next time you may find you want to fill a room or a house. Also become aware of any body sensations that accompany this space - tingling, warmth, gentle pressure - and know that these body sensations can let you know when you are in this clear and open space.

6. Breathe deeply, in and out, and hold the image of it surrounding you as you do. Realize as you do that anything that does not clearly reflect or resonate with this Song of who you are disappears from your energy field. It filters out what does not belong to you and allows you to interact with life from your true self.

Enjoy this image. This beauty and clarity and compassion and love is who you are.

Exercise:

Sit or stand with the tree you chose in the first lesson. Stay with it for 15 minutes as a minimum.

While you are with the tree, evoke that same sense of love and affection as you did before, without holding any expectation of any results at all. It seems that it can take time for a tree to notice that you intend contact in any meaningful way. Without knowing it, most people who sit in the shade of a tree do so to feel better.

Now run through the exercise that Hawthorn gave you to the end of step 5.

What this exercise supposedly does is bring you deeply back to your core self. Your core self is the wise inner you who has never lost intimate contact with nature and has never forgotten your oneness with all things. The more able you are to move into this centre of yourself, this Song of your Being, the more able you may be to harmonize your energies with the energies of nature.

You can do this as often as you want through the day. If you do not already use exercises such as this through your day, I'd suggest you practice it often. You can adjust it to do it anytime you like: at stoplights, when waiting in lines, when sitting to eat a meal or at any other time you think of.

The more often you practice this, the quicker you will find this inner song, and the more you will want to experience it. After a time, you may even find a feeling of bliss accompanying it, that you can recapture with just the recollection.

Journal:

In your notebook, jot down how this felt to you when you did it the first time.

What this was like for me:

The first time I tried anything like this, I was told it was a "feeling-tone" and wondered just what the heck a feeling-tone was. Or where it was. Or what it felt like. But once I started thinking of it as a hum or a bell sounding from my centre it helped me get a sense of it. In some eastern meditation practices people are taught to focus their attention on a place deep in the belly and most who do this meditation report that after a while they can actually feel the 'hara'. Knowing that others were sensing this helped me.

It also helped to remember how I felt when I was a kid. My sister had a certain flavour - a certain Judy-ness that was unmistakably her. The same could go for me. So I could see my song as my very Janet-ness.

Questions others have asked:

Q. I feel rotten today. How can I evoke a feeling of love when I feel sick?

A. Try recalling how it felt to be in the company of someone you love or loved dearly. If you find that sort of love too complicated or judgmental, try imagining that you hold a new-born baby in your arms. This baby doesn't care a whit about what you look like, what your problems are. It's just a brand-new little person who relaxes, fully trusting, in your arms. Impossible not to love. If you can capture that feeling for a moment, then allow yourself the luxury of resting in it for a while.

Q. What if I don't get a sense of my core self at all?

A. You will in time. Play with it without worrying about results. You will discover that you knew it all along.

As with the rest of this course, everything here is optional. Do what is right for you at your own pace.

References and further reading:

Seth, the Early Sessions Book 1, by Jane Roberts, ISBN: 9780965285506



Back to Introduction

Lesson 3 ‐>

Spirit Messages on my website.
A-Little-Birdie-Told-Me, Meditations From Nature



This work is © Copyright by Janet Dane. It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission. If you'd like more information, contact Janet