We spend so much of our lives concerned with the affairs of the day that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. We are in a forest looking at one single tree, and not paying attention to any of the others, or anything else in the forest, for that matter.
What we need to do once in a while is take some time out and really observe the world.
If you can, go to a lake where there is a forest nearby. Try to find a spot where there aren't many other people. Perform a smudging ceremony to purify yourself. If you do not use smudging then use whatever system you feel comfortable with such as envisioning white or golden light purifying your surroundings.
1. Stand quietly with your eyes closed. Listen as carefully as you can to what is around you. Try to detect the sounds that the waters of the lake make as they lap up against the shore. Listen for the sound of insects, birds, and other animals as they make their way through the forest and the air. Do not depend on your visual senses at the moment; concentrate on sound.
2. With your eyes still closed, concentrate on your sense of touch. Feel the sun's rays upon your body; feel the wind as it moves through your hair. Does the air feel humid? Dry? Kneel down and touch the earth. What does it feel like? Can you feel the particles of soil, rocks, twigs, leaves, and other material? Again, don't depend on your sight; just concentrate on the feeling.
3. With your eyes still closed, concentrate now on your sense of smell. What can you smell where you stand? The slightly fishy smell of the lake? The moist smell of the earth? The smell of leaves and other material as they slowly decay on the ground? Can you smell the freshness of the air?
4. After you have practiced listening, touching, and smelling, only now should you practice using your visual sense. Look at what is around you. See what is really there, rather than glossing over the objects. Look carefully at the lake. Watch the pattern of ripples on its surface; notice the waves as they lap the shoreline; look to see if any fish or birds are on the surface of the waters.
Look then at the forest. See the individual trees, not the forest as a whole. Look at the birds and other animals in the branches. Watch the branches move in the wind.
Look at the ground in the forest; see the forest floor covered with leaves, twigs, mushrooms, and small insects and other animals going about their business. Really watch everything that is going on. Pay attention.
Look at the sky. See the patterns that the clouds are making. Notice any birds flying overhead. Realize that beyond the blue of the sky lies the rest of the universe, filled with other planets, stars, and various assorted wonders.
5. After you have done your observing, once again center yourself. Feel the energy of nature that surrounds you; it is a fresh, clear feeling. Allow that energy to enter your body, to refresh you physically and spiritually.
6. When you are done observing, take some time to just sit and relax quietly, letting the peace of your surroundings settle into you. After you leave, try to avoid exposing yourself to any of the hustle and bustle of the "modern" world for as long as you practically can.
Realize that nature is in you. You are made from Mother Earth, and to Mother Earth you will eventually return. Let the peace of nature become part of your inner peace, and recognize that you are one with Mother Earth and all your relations.
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