Some days it feels like even if I sat in meditation all day the energy swirling inside me might not shift. The practice requires staying with what arises even after getting up off the mat. Especially then.
So I notice what’s arising as I move through my day. In my body, in my mind, and in my actions.
What am I feeling in my body? What thoughts arise? Where am I being pulled? Where am I resisting? What are the messages coming through for me to hear?
These areas of discomfort — physical, mental, emotional — are like road signs, directing me to inquire and investigate with curiosity.
Every sensation is an invitation to see what is beneath the surface.
Pain is a portal for deeper listening.
The walls feel like they are caving in on me.
A year ago, I was living in La Jolla, a quiet coastal town within San Diego. Right now I miss my daily walks to the beach, the ability to stare out at the expansive horizon and listen to the waves. It was so nourishing for me.
In nature we see hidden beauty, the inherent balance of creation: life and death, growth and decay, patience and perseverance. It gives us perspective.
New York has been cold and rainy, except for a few isolated days. This is the weather that tends to keep me inside, even without a stay-at-home order in place. It’s the reason I left here in the first place; I didn’t want to be isolated in my hibernation.
And even when the weather is warm enough to be outside, I’ve noticed that it does not soothe my nervous system. I once thought city parks were “nature,” but they do not provide the same solace. Sometimes they even make things worse.
As I walked through Washington Square Park, once a favorite respite, skateboarders came at me from every direction. As they zoomed by me or crossed in my path, I could feel my body tense up, my nervous system going into high alert with its ever-present message:
It’s not safe here.
Even reflecting back on that experience in the safe confines of stillness and silence, I can feel my hip flexors tighten and my chest constrict as my body goes into its default fight-or-flight response mode.
I am longing to be in nature.
An Antidote to Uprooting
When we feel uprooted, putting our body — or even just our feet — on the earth can help us ground in the certainty of what’s real. I find myself missing that access to nature and the beach. When everything might be swirling, I would find solace at the ocean’s edge, where I would lay myself on the sand.
As I surrendered my weight to Mama Gaia, I rested in the support of the Great Mother and remembered my truth, my connection to all of nature.
I feel my grief for those days. And I honor it.
And yet I know that even in this moment of grief and longing, even as I feel my body tighten, there is wisdom.
Pain is a portal to awareness.
In the stillness, there is a remembering:
You are nature.
Then I realize, maybe this weather is designed for me to stay inside.
Yes, it’s ideal to go out into nature to release, relax, and gain perspective, to see the beauty that exists in the natural world.
And, also, there is value in the practice of staying with what is. Building the skill of being with it. Going within.
Even within the confines of a 1-room apartment, I can find nature because I am a part of nature.
My breath attunes to the rhythm of the waves when I remember to slow it down. The cycles of the moon exist within my monthly cycles. As a woman, this is my gift and blessing, to always be connected to cycles of nature within myself.
All the things I can find in nature — the beauty, harmony, and complexity, the constant interplay of life and death, growth and decay, patience and perseverance — I can find within myself, because I am also a part of nature.
This is the gift of this moment. Of any moment.
Laying on the floor, I can feel the embrace of the Great Mother, and root into myself.