Image by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash
Within us is an infinite source of wisdom. By immersing ourselves mindfully in nature, we can unlock our inner source of knowledge that can’t be acquired through intellect alone.
There is within each and every one of us a hidden cache of knowledge. It’s not knowledge we learn or acquire by outer means, but is simply there like an infinite well we can dip into whenever we tune into the voice within. Our inner wisdom.
Intuition — the “gut feeling” we have about a person or experience — is a form of inner wisdom, but our wellspring is so much deeper and wider. Sudden understanding of a problem or answers that seem to arrive out of the blue; physical sensations of unease; a pure knowing that you’re moving in the right direction; creative energy that bursts forth as if from a higher source — these are all examples of the inner gifts available to us. Right this moment.
One of the ways we can easily and almost effortlessly tune into our inner guidance system is through immersive encounters with nature. By paying intentional attention to our surroundings, we experience mindfulness, a state of being fully in the moment.
Practicing Presence in Nature
When we focus our awareness in nature, we are practicing present moment awareness — stepping out of linear time into a liminal space. In essence, we’re seeing mindfully. With mindful awareness, we can access our inner wisdom and drink from our own wellspring of insights that can ignite our creativity, guide us in making decisions, and support us when faced with changing circumstances. By allowing insights to flow, we grow in the knowledge of who we truly are to live more authentic lives of purpose and meaning.
This type of inner knowledge is what shamanic teacher Llyn Roberts, calls true wisdom. She describes the receiving of true wisdom as an “energetic transmission that touches a knowing we are born with which acts as a fertilizer for growth.”
Such receptivity is, in fact, an ancient practice. The foundation of most religious traditions around the world are centered around seeking truth from within through meditation, contemplation, prayer, or reflection. All are forms of deep mindfulness that we experience readily in the wild. Surrounded by the beauty, majesty, and sacredness of the natural world, we slip into the timeless now.
Three Steps to Increase Your Receptivity:
- Unplug. Ditch the mobile device, the earbuds, a talkative partner, even your fur baby if he/she needs your undivided attention. Think of your foray into nature as entering a cathedral: silence fosters reverence and a state of openness to the voice of your soul.
- See the Familiar in New Ways. So much of the world around us remains hidden because we simply don’t look with a child’s innate curiosity. Be still, and absorb the details: Count every color; feel the textures of pinecones and tree bark and moist earth; look past the familiar and seek out what is hidden. Like a game of “I spy,” seeing with focused attention brings what is in the background to the foreground with startling clarity. Like a magic key, our deeper awareness opens a door to creativity and imagination.
- Collect and Create. My own practice of kinesthetic meditationcombines gathering materials from nature and using them to compose impermanent artworks. Image-making, especially when we allow ourselves to intuitively create, is linked to our subconscious and was considered by Carl Jung to be the language of the soul.
First, collect a cache of treasures — fallen acorns, seed pods, leaves, mushrooms, stones, twigs — whatever delights and captivates you as media with which to create. This act of foraging focuses our attention like a macro lens on a camera. Then clear a space on the ground and compose with your finds. Don’t aim for perfection or a design: The goal here is process, not product. You’re expressing your inner self in a free flow of arranging and rearranging. You may find that shapes such as spirals, circles, mandalas, or serpentine lines naturally emerge. These are universal symbols of transcendence embedded in the psyche. They remind us that to find meaning in life, we need to seek what is within rather than the outer world. This is a dialogue with your own soul — let it speak.
- Listen. Rather than audible listening, tune into the thoughts, insights, and emotions floating into your consciousness. Your inner wisdom speaks in a vocabulary only you can understand. With experience, you’ll come to know its language of images, words, synchronicities, feelings, and dreams. Keeping a journal can be an ideal way to explore these revelations, and can give you a way to recognize growth toward finding your true purpose and direction in life.
Opening to the unfoldment of your inner wisdom is as accessible as stepping outside and encountering nature with deep awareness. The wild world invites us into mindfulness through our intentional attention. Seeing with new acuity, you unlock the wellspring of wisdom within.
Elle Harrigan hosts the Instagram community @earthforagedart, focusing on mindfulness, creativity, and spirituality through nature.