Nature Is. Pure being. Sheer essence. And the great human paradox is that we are too. It’s our minds that get in the way of things. The Buddha spent a lot of time in nature and recognized this great spiritual truth.
I walk or hike almost every day. It clears me out. It creates in me a spaciousness unexplainable — most of the time. Intentionality is key. We create mindfulness by not letting ourselves get caught up — in ourselves.
Embodiment is an elusive concept, kinda like love and yoga. You know it’s real but words don’t accurately describe it. A walk in nature takes the same tone. When I’m outside moving my body, a lifeforce grander than I acts on my being. I feel energized and alive in ways unexplainable. If only I could write and hike at the same time — the things that would come out!
The concept of embodiment is a main staple of my life these days. I think about it a lot, and look for new ways to practice it. I am taking all I’m learning through EmbodiYoga teacher training and making it my own. So much deep knowledge. It’s amazing. One could go down a rabbit hole with the information and subtlety. I keep thinking about how to drill it down to bite-sized chunks, make it accessible to all.
In further research I found Jamie McHugh’s work on the five essential somatic technologies — breath, vocalization, contact, stillness, movement. I will keep going deeper into these concepts, but it occurred to me that embodiment is another form of mindfulness — a deeper form with many layers. And nature invites it. Nature is embodied. How do we draw her natural essence into us?
A Nature Embodiment Exploration
Simply use nature to access mindfulness via the sensations of your body. The critical part of this exploration is to be in the senses of the human body themselves, without engaging the mind in the process. As the mind engages, because it will, bring attention back to breath and the particular sense you are working with.
Sight. As you walk, take in all of the sights around you. See through things. Look for textures, colors, shadows.
Smell. Take long slow, full breaths. Breathe in nature. Try not to associate with specific smells. Instead, notice your reaction to smells and how they make you feel without attaching to what the smell is. Walking on a cold day smells much different than a hot, humid day.
Touch. Use your hands to explore nature. Feel her textures, temperature. Notice sharp and soft edges with your fingers. Notice the spirallic nature of nature — we are made of spirals too.
Hearing. Listen! Keep the headphones out and notice all that you hear. It is silent almost nowhere anymore. There are so many things to hear on a walk in nature. Explore natural surroundings and places with more man-made sounds. Notice how you feel in each setting.
Taste. If you can think about one for taste, let me know. Don’t eat any wild berries!
Perhaps with practice you’ll go deeper into each sense and engage the mind less. You might also be able to use two or more senses simultaneously. I’m still playing with these concepts myself. I would love to hear your observations.