Our inner ecology mirrors our outer ecology; our surroundings have everything to say about our interior, what’s going on in our hearts and minds. And events–the words you overhear in conversation, the strange action taking place down the street–it really has everything to say about that question you hold.
Become a Sherlock Holmes to your inner and outer life. These days I follow this practice:
I’ll take a question that’s just nagging at me. Then I’ll let it go. Now I head out to my Sit Spot–the place in my backyard that is sort of my anchor point for emptying my mind and engaging my senses, and just drinking in the rich nature and activity that is my backyard. If I think of it, I’ll attempt to vary my path to my Sit Spot, taking some wandering circuit, or coming in from another direction, rather than the usual backdoor-straight-to-rock direct path.
I engage in sense meditation and Thanksgiving, or engage in some spontaneous ceremony (the other day I created a “green fire” on my sitting stone — a ring of incense-cedar leaves with a pale pink camellia as the “flame”). I may greet the Four Directions and the Center. I may just listen to the birds, the crackling song of the hummingbird, the golden throated song of the Singer (a medium-small gray bird with pale breast who sings high in a birch or on the phone lines — I still don’t know what what it is). I’ll watch the squirrels, and I’ll note that one of the plum trees has begun to bloom. And that the sprouted potato I planted a few weeks ago has sprouted leaves.
Lately I’ve taken to lying on the ground (yes, even when it’s raining) as a way to ground myself (read about this practice in my article A Little Bird Told Me on my Singing Deer Healing site) … and get a very different perspective on things. Supported and nourished by the earth I gaze into the many branches of the incense cedar, and remember why I was moved to take a client of mine who’d been suffering from severe depression on a playful climb up a red cedar tree. These towering conifers with their tall trunks and inviting limbs having everything to teach us about reacquainting us with our own “upright mind” and sureness of spirit, and about reminding us to engage in our child’s passion to play in the trees.
Back in the house I’ll jot down what I observed outside. It’s amazing how many details of texture, scent, sound you can remember if you really engage your senses, and then make the time to recall what you experienced through writing or storytelling. Telling the story in some form is where you really begin to integrate an experience and understand just what it was!
Then I’ll start tossing in my questions. And I’ll toss in some insights from audios I’ve been listening to, or books I’ve been reading, or something someone has said.
It’s like I’m cooking something, adding this and that into a pot that simmers with the mind that was opened by the natural world, just being in that place and noting this or that in it. Now as I prod at my persistent question I consider how something I know or something I’ve noticed might just be the answer … or lead to the answer. I wonder how some experience out in this backyard might nourish a particular resolution. What springs to mind? Images of slopping bare feet through mud, of grazing around the yard on any edible — the tips of the incense-cedar leaves, the new rose leaves, the new Periwinkle leaves, the flowering mustards, the plum petals, the spearmint and peppermint, the lavender, the “sour flower” (Bermuda sorrel or Sour Grass–Oxalis pes-capre). I wander with questions and wander with possibilities. And in the end I discover, if not the answer, a very different understanding of my question. And a kind of poetic road map that I never would have dreamed up.
I don’t know if any of the above makes sense. But the more I lose myself to my senses in my own backyard, and the more I weave those perceptions and discoveries in with the questions and yearnings that tug in my heart, the more I discover I have answers I can rely upon. That in some form they’ve been there all along. The thing is, when I take them up after my inner and outer wandering, they feel entirely different — more of an enticing ecology than a jangling, won’t leave me alone thought. Feeling the wholeness, the expansiveness, and the tossing in of specific details of that question-ecology, I can lean into the answers that have been around me all along.
But, boy, do they feel exciting and enlivening now! And truly an expression of me in some very different way, whole spirit, holographic way.
So that’s me these days, and my particular style.
You, no doubt, have your own. How do you connect with the expansiveness and precious detail of the Ecology of You? What realm and pathways guide you to discovering your own unique sense of this blue world we live in, this singular you that you are, the divinity of those persistent questions that you hold?