- Awareness. To be aware is to be alive. Yesterday I was hiking with a friend. I looked ahead, up the hill, for a moment, instead of looking at the trail. My friend cried out. I had stepped over a bull snake on the trail. Luckily it was a bull snake and not a rattlesnake. But other times I need to stop watching the trail so much and notice around me. Sight is only one form. Smells, sounds, bird warnings, scat, tracks–all these are things to be aware of.
- Curiosity. I called a friend the other day and on her answering machine was a quote: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Curiosity is a choice, an approach to the world. It is the posture of a child. I can be curious instead of afraid, or bored.
- Wandering without purpose. This is actually a form of spiritual practice. Take time to wander. Being on a trail is good when you want to go from here to there. But trails reinforce the illusion of life as a straight line. Wandering with no purpose, observing small details, allows the mind and body to be simply present, without agenda. Wandering is a form of walking meditation. I like to call it ‘tooling around’ vs. ‘hiking’. My friend says Thoreau called it ‘woods loafing’.
- The wonder of the occasional ‘ah ha’ moment. Not exactly IN the toolbox, but in slowing down and wandering, this does occur. This has happened to me several times. I could have read the same instructions in a book or on a map a thousand times, but the revelatory nature of the ‘ah ha’ comes from inside, not outside. It has the power and force of Mother Nature herself as our teacher. I was looking for a sheep trap made out of large boulders. I had a crude map and was walking the cliffline. In fact, I walked right into the ancient site, but since it was natural and not man-made, I did not connect it with my map. As I walked further down the cliff edge, I noticed the game trail passed directly by the boulder entrapment. ‘Ah ha’, and the connection was made, even though I had the map the entire time. The few times this happens to me, its so special.
- Nature gives gifts. Be open to receiving them and realize they are gifts, not a right or a claim. I was reading a Field and Stream article about finding sheds, or most people call it ‘horn hunting’, that is, looking for antlers of deer and elk. They gave good tips as to where and when to look to receive optimal results. Yet they ended with a wise and profound statement: Remember, finding a shed is a gift, not an entitlement. I have found interesting things at just the right moment. Why is she called ‘Mother Nature’? Because the earth not only feeds and clothes us, but also can be a nurturing and soothing force.
- Listen to the dreamworld. Dreams take many forms, and we all know the ones that seem to come from deep recesses full of wisdom. They are telling us something—whether they be prescient or helping us access inner power—we need to listen to them. When you feel the power of a dream, or an intuition, or your imagination, sometimes its better to let it simmer inside, let it reveal itself fully to you, instead of releasing its power by telling everyone about it. Oh, how I need to remember to do that–be a bit more quiet!
- Finally, I remind myself on occasion (when I remember to), the nature of true living is Felt experience without resistance.
Filed under: Practice of The Wild |