Relax Into Nature
This post appeared in my Active Consciousness Newsletter — August 2012
Every summer my husband Steve and I spend some time up in Canada — in a land of lakes, granite rock, and forests called Muskoka — about two hours north of Toronto, Ontario. And that’s where I’m sitting right now as I write this — looking out my window onto the expansive Moon River. That’s our dock in the photo. It’s windy and overcast today. We’re hoping for some much needed rain.
Despite the fact that I try to meditate daily back in California and that I now lead a relatively peaceful life (especially compared to my hectic days working in Silicon Valley), I find that I’m still pretty stressed when I come up to Canada each summer. Life can be SO busy. Normally it takes several days — even a week — for me to relax into the rhythm of life in Muskoka. Things just move slower here, running on “Muskoka time,” as Steve and I like to say. When a workman says he’ll come over Tuesday afternoon — well, maybe he will. Maybe it will be Wednesday morning.
Actually, for various reasons, I felt particularly stressed when I came up to Canada this summer. The world around us is going through a lot of changes right now, which is creating stress in all of our lives. Instead of a few days, it has taken a couple of weeks for me to really relax this year. In fact, in my experience, the tension we all carry around within us isn’t even perceptible until we have a chance to drop it. You can’t hear the noise until you experience silence.
Some of my most important spiritual or meditative experiences this summer have been through animal contacts. In fact, as I mention in Active Consciousness, one interesting active consciousness experiment is to try calling animals to you — that is, making an interesting animal contact one of your PURE GOALs. This summer, these kinds of contacts seem to be constantly knocking at my door.
On one of our first days here, I was sitting in my little chair on one of my favorite perches — with essentially the view you see in the photo. At one point, when I looked on the ground next to me, I was startled to see a long greenish-brown snake with longitudinal yellow stripes just about a foot away from my feet. I have never seen a snake here before, and this is our ninth summer at this cottage. Startled, I moved suddenly and the snake slithered away into the bushes.
After doing some research online, I found that my friend was a non-poisonous garter snake. I resolved that if he visited me again, I wouldn’t startle. And just yesterday it happened. I was reading a book up on my perch when I looked down and there was my friend again, coiled up in the sun with his head raised looking at me. I said hello gently and told him that I would feel a little more relaxed if he left. He immediately responded by slithering off slowly into the bushes.
Amazingly, in late June, I had selected seven “medicine cards” for my summer solstice quarter. This is a practice I perform quarterly as part of my journaling process using the book The Sacred Journey (which I highly recommend). My primary card for this summer quarter was the Snake, which symbolizes transmutation. My two visits (so far!) with the garter snake have been reminders to me to meditate more deeply on this principle and its importance for me at this time.
Another important facet of my time up in Muskoka this summer has been reading the book Spiritwalker by Hank Wesselman. I highly recommend it. Among many other fascinating ideas, the book emphasizes our human connection to the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms and the power and insight we can gain by communing intentionally with these realms. Somehow, this summer seems to be providing me with a direct linkage to animals, requiring very little effort on my part at all. Here is an amazing event that happened to me spontaneously about a week ago.
I was sitting on the upper deck pictured above, in one of the green chairs next to the little green table. To my left in the water, a lone male duck was swimming by — a common occurrence. I was in a light meditative state and in a very openhearted and happy mood. On a whim, I just started talking happily to the duck. “Hello there!” I said. “Would you like to come up here and visit with me?” Almost immediately — within five seconds — the duck suddenly jumped onto the paddleboat that you can also see in the photo, with a tannish cover over it.
I then said to my feathered friend, “That’s great! But how about walking up the ramp to sit with me up here? You can do it!” The duck responded by jumping back into the water and swimming around for a few seconds. Then, suddenly, it jumped onto the lower part of the ramp, walked up, and waddled directly over to my chair. It looked me in the eye and sat down — about two feet away. We both looked out over the water. I talked to the duck about the beautiful day, and about how nice it was for him to visit me. I apologized that I didn’t have any food for him — and that I hoped he wasn’t expecting that. He sat with me for a while longer. Then he got up, looked at me again, walked around a bit, and then jumped off the deck into the water. After swimming around for a few seconds, he did a ducky take-off — running rapidly atop the water and then taking off for a flight across the bay, loudly squawking his farewell to me all the way.
Wow. I knew that something really amazing had occurred. I ran up to the cottage and told Steve about my duck encounter. But slowly, it recessed into my memory until I met with the snake for the second time yesterday. I decided then to write it all up and tell you about these amazing encounters.
Friends, we need to pay attention to our connections to Nature — in all its forms — and to the important messages we are receiving. As my teacher Gary Sherman is constantly stressing to his students, information and teaching is coming to us daily. We only need to expect it, notice it, acknowledge it, listen to it, and be grateful for it. Your life will change in miraculous ways if you do.