Starburst Reflection in Stream Medley of birds singing along a small stream in deep forest. 5am, June 8, 2000, near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott

We are born into a magical world of sensory delight, our beings naturally tuned to our surroundings. We are part of nature, our senses connecting us to the whole like an umbilical cord, allowing us to commune with and be nurtured by the source from which we have sprung.

Nature Bubble sketch © Lang ElliottI am interested in how to deepen one’s personal relationship with nature and especially one’s ability to enter into a heartfelt communion with the myriad life-forms with which we share planet earth. My approach is simple and easy for anyone to understand and requires no special knowledge or particular set of beliefs. Yet it can be challenging to put into practice because of the unending demands of human-created society which have left most of us alienated from nature, observing “it” from a distance as an amorphous “other,” at best to be analyzed and described, rather than embraced, loved, and cherished as an intimate extension of ourselves.

In a nutshell, my technique involves developing a profound sensual connection to the natural word, a “sacred sensuousness” of sorts. By quieting the mind and focusing our attention on things other-than-human, our senses will quite literally reach outward into our surroundings, touching upon the source of our own being and re-connecting us with what is truly essential.

Green Frog - shutterstockNature immersion and absorption is all about embodiment. It is about rousing one’s senses and surrendering to direct experience. It is about losing one’s self and living entirely in the moment. It is about becoming a child again, full of wonder and excitement. It is about attaining a sense of lightness and freedom, as an antidote to our complicated and noisy lives.

If you learn to deeply connect with nature, to enter into a state of communion, you will not only connect with your earthly source, you will also benefit in countless other ways. For periods of time of your choosing, you will be released from endless thoughts and worries as you experience the greater calm that holds everything. You will become like a suckling babe, drawing nourishment from that which cradles you.

The earth is not only your mother, it is the source of endless delights. It provides you with an enormous, extended family that you can visit any time you wish, an inexhaustible world of friends (of all shapes and sizes) that, in a sense, are wondering where you have been. Perhaps now is the time to come into the open and say hello to all your brothers and sisters. Now is the time to invite them into your inner circle and into your heart. You have been gone so long — now is the time to return home.

Please let me know how you feel about this important matter by leaving your personal reflection below.

Note: “Sacred sensuousness” (a term I use in the third paragraph of my essay) is the title and subject of Chapter 3 in Brother David Steindl-Rast’s wonderful book The Listening Heart. Here is a relevant quote from that chapter: “Most people’s glorious gates of perception creak on rusty hinges. How much of the splendor of life is wasted on us because we plod along half-blind, half-deaf, with all our senses throttled and numbed by habituation.” Such a telling question indeed!

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