PAYING ATTENTION TO NATURE TO REENCHANT YOUR LIFE
Our attention is constantly being pulled in all directions, to our iPhones and iPads, computers, traffic signs, televisions, and radios, Google Maps, and department stores, and we have forgotten to pay attention to the natural world around us, which offers so much richness in terms of inspiration and awe.
HOW AWARE ARE YOU OF THE NATURAL WORLD AROUND YOU?
See how many of the following questions or statements you can answer without any help.
1. Can you describe the five trees closest to your home?
2. What time does the sun set today or rise tomorrow?
3. Do you know exactly what the Winter Solstice is?
4. Do you know how big the sun is compared to the earth?
5. Why are there beautiful colors during a sunset?
6. Describe what an atom really looks like?
7. What kinds of birds live in your area?
8. How can you tell if the moon is waxing or waning?
9. Describe the last time you took five minutes to gaze at the full moon.
0. Describe how the ocean tides and a menstrual cycle are tied to the moon.
If you had a hard time with the above assignment, don’t feel bad most people do. Most of us visit nature in the form of a vacation, going to the beach on the weekend, or perhaps a daily run in the park. However, paying attention to nature as part of a daily appreciation is a way you can begin to direct your energy. Next time you go outside, look around and see what nature is around you. Where do you
live in terms of the natural world, where is the nearest, largest tree, are flowers blooming anywhere, is there snow on a nearby mountain, how close is a body of water or a hillside, have trees started to lose their leaves, do you hear creatures at night?
NATURE, THE COSMOS, AND SPIRITUALITY
Knowing what we now know about the cosmos, our natural world, and our integral part in it shows us the interdependence of everything and the mystery and awe of the universe we live in.
Primitive people spent time in nature, observing the seasons, the life-giving sun coming up every morning, the importance of the stars, and the connection of all things. They noticed, paid attention to, depended on, and were in awe of all these things. They had no science to understand their awe of the universe, but had a spiritual relationship with things, for example, worshipping the sun or praying for rain.
In todays evidence-based culture, scientific explanations of our environment and the universe have led to a situation where logical explanations have taken the awe out of our experience of it. However, science does not have to be at odds with spirituality. It is the combination of the awesome scientific knowledge we have of our universe, and an embodied experience of it, that leads to a spiritual experience or understanding. Knowing what is actually happening during a sunset is one thing, but knowing this combined with taking the time to go out and appreciate the experience of it brings a deeper sense of appreciation and awe.