Posted on October 27th, 2009 by Colin and is posted in Midlife
Do you have a sacred place in nature where you can find solitude, stillness and silence?
Here is one of my favourite habitats – our local beach. Looking out over the sparkling Mediterranean towards Morocco I believe this is the perfect natural environment for making better decisions about work and life.
After spending the last eleven years working in office buildings, hotel rooms and training venues, I had forgotten the power a natural environment has to offer. A world that was here before me, and will still be here long after I’ve gone. Taking the year out and living on Fuerteventura allowed me to re-establish my relationship with Mother Earths healing power.
Rising upwards to the sky behind our house on the Island was an extremely well preserved extinct volcano. We found it quite by accident but when we did, we knew we had found a sacred place. Dropping down into its heart was quite eerie, not a sound could be heard.
The air was heavy with complete silence. The time I spent up there provided me with an invaluable experience, I came to know myself in a new way, a deeper way. This strong, silent place interrupted my agitated mind, bringing me into a state of simply being. I would just sit there and breath, breathing deeply the dry clean air, opening myself up for the answers that came from within.
Finding this symbolic place gave me the realisation that I had very little silence in my life. In fact many of us have become accustomed to a life without silence. The noise of modern life accompanies us everywhere we go. I was drawn back to the volcano time and time again. I found it had a dissolving effect on the socialised part of my personality.
The part of myself that’s full of the voices of people telling me what to do, who I am, and what I should do. The solitude of nature silences these booming voices and allows us to hear the quieter voice of our real self and start to communicate with it. Thomas Merton said the easiest way to rid yourself of your neurosis is to surround yourself with nature, or more specifically; trees. He said you couldn’t be neurotic standing in front of a bunch of trees. For me here in Spain it’s standing or sitting in front of the ocean.
Finding our sacred spot in nature is different for everyone but I believe we all have one. When I ask people to cut out or draw images of their ideal future I’m constantly amazed to see almost every person, without exception, has images of nature: oceans, mountains, farms, trees, rivers, meadows appearing within it. Everybody’s idea of the ideal future differs to some degree, but one consistent theme amongst those I work with is the need to be connected with the sacredness of nature.
I think a lot of people are drawn to nature to get away from the man made civilised construct we live most of our life in. A world that’s been twisted, bent, manipulated, fenced, concreted, motorwayed, tarmaced, bricked, boxed and shaped to suit man’s needs. People that come on the retreat want to exchange their ‘small box’ reality for the timelessness and expansiveness of creation itself. To let nature touch them on every level: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual.
If I spend too much time in the concrete jungle I hear Earth’s voice calling me back to the sacred. If I’ve been away travelling I love to get off the plane and drive down to our local beach, slip off my shoes and feel the moist sand on my feet. Then, sit on my favourite rock as if to claim my sacred territory. I now believe that silence, solitude and stillness are important ingredients of navigating the midlife experience and finding the gifts it has to offer.
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