"Don't Walk, Sit!"
As a passionate lover and advocate of walking, it’s not often you’ll hear me utter those words. However, taking time to sit, or at least slow-down, is an important counter-balance to the fast-paced life that many of us lead nowadays.
It’s a time to reflect, take notice and just ‘be’.
If we’re honest, pausing long enough to step out of the ‘doing’ – to simply ‘be’ - can be edgy for a lot of us. Getting caught up in the functioning of our lives can easily become something of an addiction.
And it's a trap.
When we become singularly absorbed in the ‘doing’ of our jobs, solving of problems, handling of life’s never-ending task lists, it is easy to slip out of consciousness, forgetting who we are, or how we are showing up.
We move into auto-pilot, often missing important signals, both within us and around us, numbing our capacities for creativity and connection.
If we want to affect our reality in new and meaningful ways, it's extremely useful to find a way to detach from the hamster wheel, even if only temporarily, in order to re-gain our balance, replenish our energies and find different perspectives with which we might re-enter and begin to change our world.
Nature as Teacher and Healer
When we get out there and walk in the natural outdoors, we are offered far more than an escape from all the everyday noise and craziness; we are gifted with a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow.
To begin with, when we slow down and ‘sit’ with nature in a companionable way, long enough to let our inner tensions dissolve, we eventually return to our true, most natural, open and receptive selves.
We can then observe the environment, take note of how we feel, and become aware that attributes of ourselves – and our psychology - might be highlighted in the characteristics of plants, animals and elements, such as the hardness of rocks, the swaying of a tree, or the playfulness of a squirrel.
These metaphors then become messages for personal reflection and action. These messages are sometimes called the Mirrors in Nature.
How to work with Mirrors in Nature
Plan to spend at least one hour in outdoor green space, taking a notebook, pen and something to sit on. You might begin by identifying a question or intention, then hold it lightly in the back of your mind. Or, you might choose to remain open to whatever comes up.
Wander slowly, letting your rational mind quieten down, and allow your instincts to guide you to a place where you can sit. Look around you and choose something that catches your eye. Spend some time exploring whatever you have found. It could be tiny - or an entire view.
When you are ready, ask yourself:
“What can I ‘see’?”
(Here, the term ‘seeing’ includes using all of your five senses.) Write down as much as you can in your notebook, including the emotions that arise as well as other sensory detail. If you run out of things to write, ask yourself the question again.
After a while you will know it’s time to ask yourself a second question:
“What does it tell me?”
Again write down as much as you can and if you get stuck or dry up, ask yourself the question “What can I see?” again.
This activity is most powerful when you later share your findings with someone who is able to hold a neutral (taking care not to influence) while generative viewpoint. You could ask them for their reflections on what you have written. This can help unlock things that can be more difficult to see alone.
As with many new practices, the benefits and richness to be discovered from doing this can be fully appreciated when practised over time and at regular intervals.
Why not give sitting a try today?