Experiencing Beauty in Nature
The first image that came to mind as I wrote the title for this article was that of a warm and sunny summer afternoon with a Tinker Bell like character magically flying through a field of daisies. Pure fantasy? Maybe not. Let’s take a closer look.
The Way it Was
Most of us have pleasant memories of the Walt Disney fairy who first appeared in the Disney animated series Peter Pan. Young and old alike remain enamored with Tinker Bell. Her flights of fancy are the stuff that this title speaks about.
Experiencing = Not studying, nor psychological speak, no PhD required. Just an openness to what gifts are given to us in the ways of nature.
Beauty = An attractiveness void of logic or empirical evidence that appeals to us through our senses
In = The placement of those elements in such a way that they become beautiful. Notice that the beauty being experienced is not separate from nature, rather it is an integral part of nature; it is IN nature.
Nature: The design of the environment we reside in, including all of its processes and outcomes. Whether by grand design or happen chance and contrary to the preferences of some, in its purest form nature is a free agent. Try as we might, we have yet to be able to control nature.
As a civilized, forward thinking people our views of the small things that keep life interesting are being overlooked. Why? We’ve become jaded. In all of our advancements we have given up on stopping to smell the roses. Instant gratification has replaced our previous ways of taking things as they come.
When was the last time you were awe-struck by an experience? So intense that it literally stopped you in your tracks. All you could do was watch it unfold before you. There were no words available to describe the experience, just pure beauty.
Many of us don’t even recognize what we have lost to an age of instant gratification. Spontaneity, a go for it attitude, the ability to manage our time for our own benefit. As the title describes we could just as well be talking about a parallel universe. Some would say we have lost the freedom to simply enjoy. Is it lost or just misplaced?
Predominately ours is a Euro-American culture. Our thoughts are guided by very specific parameters. Among them is that we are taught to be logical and analytical in how we think. We are empowered by a Judea-Christian understanding of a deity that places God on our side. Our focus is compartmentalized. Success is personalized. One final blow to this mindset is to learn not to trust your feelings. Taken as a whole, this Euro-American way of life leaves many of us with high levels of angst.
But, this is not the only option available to us. Many of the world’s population understand themselves to be a part of the whole. For these people integration with the world is viewed as the norm. By integration I mean a balanced world experience. An experience that includes not only logic and clear thinking, but also takes into account our feelings and emotions as well as our spiritual needs. In this world view, all that we do, say, or think becomes a sacred act.
One of the best examples of this approach can be found in the “old” ways of many of the Native American tribes and a more meditative approaches to life seen among many of Asian (Eastern) descent. It is through this integrated or balanced way of living that the beauty of nature can be experienced. It is here that people accept that stopping to smell the roses is a part of life, a way of appreciating what nature has given us.
Just to be clear, I am in no way suggesting that we all put on long flowing robes, let our hair grow long, burn incense, or forego success as we define it. As clearly as possible what I am suggesting is that as we go about our daily life we remain in touch with all facets of who we are; physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Picture yourself having a stressed out day at work. Nothing is going right. Assigned duties go undone. All in all you would have been better off staying in bed. In an effort to clear your head you decide to take a ten minute break. Heading outside to get away from it all you find yourself sitting in the small garden your employer has put in.
You begin to focus yourself on the moment you pick a flower. Studying its intricate construction, the blending of spring colors, and its aromatic fragrance you begin to let go of the baggage you brought outside with you. In that moment you begin to experience beauty in nature and it feels good.
One key to achieving this balanced way of life is through what is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to live in the moment. Certainly you don’t want to live in the past. After all, the past can only offer you memories. Nor do you want to focus all of your energy on the future. Plan for it, yes, but knowing that it can only be a plan. If you truly want to change it is only in the moment at hand that this can occur.
It is in the beauty of the flower that you remember what it feels like to let go. You become mindful of the differences between rushing to get a job completed and completing a job in its due time.
Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/50879678@N03/8648461542