Monthly Archives: July 2023

Nature-Informed Silent Retreats

Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss

Nature holds our bodies in a way that allows us to relax. Relaxation allows the nervous system to down-regulate. 
A down-regulated nervous system is one that listens. 

In listening, we discover that we are not separate from nature or from all life—our heart pumping, our breath, the feel of our feet on the ground, the smell of the roses and lavender, the taste of tea-–all of this is nature enjoying herself through our body. 

Attuning to water, wind, trees, birds, wood, bugs, grass, flowers, dirt and more—through smell, hearing, touch, sight, taste, and the timeless intuition within Silence-- we discover home. 
Attuning to nature involves slowing down to listen with the body through the five senses, intuition, and knowing. Many of us feel ourselves respond to Nature’s flow and deep wisdom because the same rhythm exists within our own bodies; an unconditional movement that includes joy and suffering.
As the western half of humanity, we have achieved remarkable things. However, our achievements have often caused immense suffering as they lacked a conscious understanding of our relational wholeness. Our lack of connection has harmed nature, indigenous peoples, animals, and ultimately our own connection to our depth. At a deep level, we intuitively know that separation is not our true place. When our mind, heart, and body cohere, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue unconscious harming-habits .
Our disconnected dynamic makes the integrative relational structure of Nature a great teacher for these times. Many of us sense this and regularly seek to “get away” into Nature to replenish and restore ourselves. If we slow down to feel the magic that we seek in Nature, we discover there is no place where there isn’t communion with nature. Within a humble blade of grass, the feel of our feet on the ground, the smell of a rose, or an authentic dialogue, there is a quiet hum of a palpable sensation with a higher ordered-intelligence. The Tao te Ching addresses this timeless order:
Man follows the earth
Earth follows the universe
The Universe follows the Tao
The Tao follows only itself.
(vs. 25, trans. Stephen Mitchell)
Reminders that we are beings with an unconditional place in Nature are incredibly calming to the nervous system. Even our suffering habit of separation is included within Nature’s pulse and flow. We start to see that many of our suffering habits come from feeling separate and isolated. Truly seeing our separation, rather then making it something to fix, opens a compassionate heart that can include the disconnected wounding of our world.
Inner stillness and Silence allow us to attune to life through a wholeness that includes the “underdeveloped parts” of ourselves. We literally begin living and breathing within a different relational field that becomes an organic transpersonal blessing rather than a personal achievement; a surrendered listening, not a conquering; the feminine right-brain in relation, not the  masculine left-brain managing the parts.
Seeing an expansion of our collective consciousness and a growing awareness of our strength as a collective gives me a sense of future possibilities. As embodied beings, we are meant to be here … together … within the wholeness of Nature; sharing what we learn as we learn to listen through the powerful transmission of Nature.