Nature: An Intoxicating Truth Serum

The other night I went to the local library and heard an author speak about his book Yoga of the Microcosm: Spiritual Unity with Nature in the 21st Century. Siddhartha Syam’s words reverberated with my soul and I felt “Sid’s” story was also my story. Sid talked about his journey of reconnecting with his true self through nature. Like many of us, Sid became disconnected with his most innocent and pure soul when he found himself immersed and caught up in the material trappings of society. In his book, Sid writes:

After graduation from college, I settled into a career in information systems. The work was reasonably interesting, and the career path seemed to be clear. After a few years of work in India, I migrated to the United States, and my prospects for a “good” career and life, at least in the conventional sense, became even brighter. But some part of me still resonated to something not found in an urban office environment – the call of the trees, the sky, flowers, and mountains – Mother Nature.

This particular passage stood out for me because my spiritual journey involved fully immersing myself in nature in order to connect with this “self” that was struggling to break free.  Just as in the case of Sid, Mother Nature called out to me and it was though I had a sense truth would be found in nature. This struggle within was a restlessness that I felt nature could help calm and heal.  I ended up relocating from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest because the water and mountains called out to me.

When I arrived in Seattle my body seemed to immediately relax and feel at home. The mountains that surrounded me on all sides seemed to provide strength during my journey and the water served as purification for my soul. I also found a passion for trail running. Instead of running on the roads or going to the gym, I started to run only on trails. The trails beckoned me to join their peaceful state of stillness. When I gazed up at the trees while running, I realized there was so much more than my little bubble world. Every insignificant worry would dissipate with each stride I took. The trees reminded me of the vastness of the universe and the fact there was so much more to life than the mental confines we create in our head. In nature, I became connected to something larger than myself and it was exhilarating. During my runs, I would have epiphanies such as these:

While I was running today I looked up at the towering trees above me and breathed in the fresh Pacific Northwest air.  At that moment a fusion of love filled by body and I felt so at peace with life. I turned my IPOD on and Bob Sinclair’s song “World Hold On” came on. One of the phrases of the song goes “Look Inside, You Will Find a Deeper Love!” What I realized is that so often we look for love from external sources. This love can be in the form of a love from another person, money, status, material objects, or a myriad of other tangible and intangible things. But what one must realize is that the deeper love that Bob Sinclair sings about comes from the core of one’s inner being.  When this self-love is absent, we are unable to fully accept, appreciate, or even recognize love from the outside.

What’s interesting is that before I went for my run today I prayed to the universe for some sort of excitement. I felt that my life was just mundane and not stimulating enough.  The moment I looked up at the trees I realized that excitement involved feeling alive and I mean ALIVE! Here I was, fully engaged in my absolute favorite activity (trail running); I was surrounded by endless beauty; and I had never felt so alive in my life.  So often I think we end up in this sleepwalking state and yearn for artificial injections of excitement to temporarily rouse us from our drunken state of unconsciousness.  Yes, we may be excited for a short duration of time but then we crave the next injection of excitement.  Being alive means living in the moment and being grateful for what the universe has presented to us at that very point in time. It’s amazing how much “excitement” you will find by putting the brakes on life, looking around, and staring in child-like wonder at the magical wonders of the universe.

Besides the trails, I also found the water very healing and nourishing. During the summer months I spent hours sitting by the lake down the street from where I lived.  As I sat in a meditative trance, I felt one with the lazily lapsing waves. It’s as though staring out at Lake Washington was a tranquilizer for my soul. The water didn’t numb or subdued me, but instead, the water allowed me to just be, just exist.  Whenever I felt like a jack-in-the-box with the lid sealed tightly shut, I would run or sit by the water and the lid on my life would miraculously open. Nature stripped away all the excess in my life and reminded me of the person I was at the core of my most untainted self.

The year and a half I spent in Seattle was quite a profound and transformative time in my life.  In the natural surroundings of the Pacific Northwest I united with my most authentic self and found my voice. Nature served as an outlet to help me fully digest internal struggles that had been raging within for some time. When I stripped away my job, the perception others had of me, and where I thought my life “should be” headed, I found myself. In the trees, water, and mountains, truth stared back at me with a clarity I couldn’t ignore.

 

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