Nature as Guide

SarahLoveIt is with great love, admiration, and appreciation that I’m sharing this beautiful post by Sarah Love, one of our moderators on the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety/Conscious Weddings E-Course forum, who is now in the last days of her first pregnancy. Over the last six years, Sarah has journeyed through the darkest night anyone can walk through and has emerged with the jewels of wisdom that are reflected in this post. I can attest that she has followed her own words as she has mindfully and gracefully walked through the nine months of pregnancy, trusting in the guidance of nature to usher her through her own transition.

As we heal and connect to our inner column of strength, we all must find our anchor points, the places where we can ripple back into ourselves and tap into the flow of faith that informs our lives. For Sarah, one of those anchor points is nature. As you read her words born from her wrestling match with all of the same forces that afflict many of you – resistance, self-doubt, anxiety (including relationship anxiety), grief, loss, confusion, disorientation, loss of direction – consider what those anchor points may be for you.

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Nature as Guide: By Sarah Love

Over the years, as I have continued to traverse through more and more transitions, I’ve found the one thing that always works to bring me back to center: Nature. While there are other resources that bring me relief and peace and guidance, nothing speaks directly to my soul the way Nature does. When I’m lost in the storms of change I can rest in the arms of Mother Earth, knowing she’s supporting me, my lighthouse in the hurricane, always with a sense that whatever is happening is happening just as it should, as it must.

When I’m stuck in a place, whether it’s a place of confusion or grief or despair, when I can eventually drop the story and connect with Nature’s energy I’m able to grasp something much bigger than whatever is happening in my tiny bubble. I can see, almost viscerally feel, that the strife and pain and hurt are just a part of the package. There’s a sense that yes, life is difficult, yet so, so beautiful in it’s challenges all at once. This is what I hear, “Look what we go through in order to survive, to thrive. Look beyond the stuff of the human world and watch the trees moving in the wind, recognizing that some have become casualties to a force stronger than their roots. Look how green the grass is after a good rain.” The beauty and the pain hold hands.

Lately I’ve been pondering Nature and all its wisdom. What has bubbled up are these 5 teachings that have been helpful little reminders:

1. The wind is no compass (we can’t follow our feelings)

*If we were to use the wind as a compass we’d be lost who-knows-where. The wind can’t guide us; it can inform us of what’s happening on the planet, in our worlds. The wind helps us know what’s going on, but it’s always changing. The wind (our feelings) provides information, but the wind (our feelings) will never be a reliable compass.

2. The weather is all over the place during seasons of transitions (change is messy)

*Transitions are messy. When winter shifts to spring, one day it’s warm, the next it’s snowing. Some days consist of rain, then snow, then it’s suddenly sunny and then warmer at night than it was in the afternoon. The weather is messy, and we expect it to be. This is true for our inner transitions, too, and we need to expect the same mess that we tolerate (however begrudgingly) with the weather. Some days are going to be better than others and some are going to a whole complicated mess. Such is the nature of transition, of life. When we can see it for what it is – that things are just shifting and recalibrating – we can soften to the experience and allow change to happen.

3. A frozen ground thaws (our hearts naturally open after closing)

*The Earth freezes because the Earth freezes; it’s just what happens. But when it does eventually thaw, as it always will in time and with patience, we find life. Flowers bloom, insects and earth creatures make their way through the soil. The same is true with our hearts. We go through periods of being frozen, closed. But when we eventually thaw and reopen, we find what comes out is what’s been there all along, just waiting.

4. Change is happening, even when we can’t see it (trust the process)

*When flower bulbs are planted, the Earth is different than it was before the addition of the bulbs. Something has been added, and yet there are no visible signs of change on the surface. Before it even reaches the light of day, the seed breaks open, moving toward the sun until it eventually breaks ground. This is how it works for us, too, when our inner landscapes are changing. Seeds (little inklings of new thought patterns, beliefs, habits, etc.) are planted deep into our psyche. Nothing on the outside is different, yet there’s something new present, something that wasn’t there before. In time, what’s been planted will grow. What’s been present for much longer in the deeper, hidden layers will bloom on the surface.

5. Dress for the weather (wishing for things to be different than they are is what creates suffering, not the situation itself)

*Fighting against what we can’t change creates suffering. So often people wish for heat when it’s snowing, wish for sun when it’s raining. We complain. Moan and groan about how we want things to be different. Yet all the complaining in the world won’t part the clouds. All it’s good for us making us miserable. The weather will do what it does; it’s how we adapt that makes all the difference. The same is true for our inner worlds. When something is off inside we can either try to will it away or put on our metaphorical raincoat and welcome the downpour, maybe even, eventually, dancing in the rain. Instead of willing our thoughts and feelings away we learn to be with them, trusting that, like any weather system, our moods will eventually shift. Misery is born from fighting what is.

To know that life, Mother Earth, is supporting us no matter what, that She goes through much of the same as we do, I hope provides some relief. She’s not always the most gentle in her teachings (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc), but she’s always wise. It’s easy to feel lost in this crazy world, but when we can find that ever-present wisdom available to us at any moment, we can rest knowing we’re not doing this thing called life all alone. For me it’s Nature, for you it might be something different. Either way, this wisdom that lives within and around you is probably much closer to the surface than you might believe.

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And this is the blog post she wrote in the last days of her pregnancy as she was descending fearlessly into the heart of her own rich darkness:

Into the Forest Into the Darkness

And if you’re pregnant or in the first year of motherhood and would like to walk through your transition with consciousness and grace, consider my Birthing a New Mother Home Study Program.

25 comments to Nature as Guide

  • Mswonderful

    Beautiful
    Exactly what was needed. Thank you

  • Sarah

    I loved this post SO much! Her metaphors for the relationship between nature and transition are lovely. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  • Anne

    Wonderful! I especially like “Dress for the Weather.” We have a new baby – just two months old. It’s an amazing journey to get to know our son yet at the same time, we’re having our 3.5 year old evaluated for autism. It’s incredibly painful, yet hopeful at the same time. If she gets a “label,” she will get more resources so that one day she’ll be better able to communicate.

    Side note to Sheryl – any recommendations for parenting a child with special needs with respect to their feelings/emotional health? She doesn’t have the vocabulary, attention, reception language, etc as typical children so sitting with her the way you’ve shared you did with your sons as toddlers/preschoolers doesn’t work. Nonetheless, my husband and I are wondering if she has high sensitivity/intuition and want to respect it.

    • Anne: Please read “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Elaine Aron and consider joining the hscbook yahoo group. Also, I encourage you to look into neurofeedback for your daughter as it’s been proven to be highly effective in treating “different” brains. Sending much love.

  • Hannah

    *The Earth freezes because the Earth freezes; it’s just what happens. But when it does eventually thaw, as it always will in time and with patience, we find life. Flowers bloom, insects and earth creatures make their way through the soil. The same is true with our hearts. We go through periods of being frozen, closed. But when we eventually thaw and reopen, we find what comes out is what’s been there all along, just waiting.

    I love this! This is exactly what lovebug tried to explain to me so many times on the forum. After a very long period of being closed and anxious I just let it happen over the weekend. I felt like I would always be that way and was very frightened but had some wisdom that deep down I knew that it wasn’t going to last forever and although my heart had been closed for some time I knew that it would pass and it would eventually open. This weekend, I have opened back up again. I still don’t feel esctatic and madly in love but I know I love my partner and I am excited for our future together. I have this nice calmness and knowing that he is the one for me and i’d be stupid to let him go, there is love there but not the feeling of love, a different kind of love. Kind of a calmer love and feeling like he is family to me. My heart is back open again, instead of hoping it will be like this forever I know it will close again sometime soon but I will not panic and know that it is temporary 🙂

    Thank you for this!

  • Angela

    Hi my dearest Sheryl,
    I love this post!! Nature is nature you cannot stop it, it has to do its own thing. Change is happening ,even if we cannot see it.TRUST THE PROCESS . I Can relate to that statement.. It’s a journey moving forward and to accept our feelings for what they are. Not erase them. Welcome them!

  • Val

    What a wonderful read! I really really enjoyed all the metaphors in this post, it really spoke to me! Thank you!

  • Andrea

    Beautiful post Sarah!

  • Lili

    Very nice descriptions and metaphors used, thanks for sharing x

  • Kathy

    “The Wind is No Compass”, My new mantra. I’m caught up in quite a windstorm right now and I needed that to help me find my footing and hold my ground. Excellent post!

  • Onedayatatime

    Sheryl, I am having a lot of worry/dread and anxiety about a symptom I am getting checked out Friday (feels like forever). I am worried it could be cancer. I do feel it’ s a fairly legitimate symptom that definitely warrants a doctor exam at the least. And it could be something else less severe. I have read through your posts on health anxiety. Even this post, yes I need a spiritual practice. It does come down to the fear of death. At this point it could literally be the worry of being told I have any terminal illness and having like 1 to 3 or less years to live. I Keep thinking of that. For me so far dealing with the fear of death, it’s been somewhat of a “that’s going to happen later” thing so that eases the anxiety. But how do you deal with it when it’s not a “later” thing? I fear everything that is involved in knowing I could be dying. And thinking “is this going go be me”. Worried about that than thinking what might be after death (and I don’t know my beliefs about this yet either). It’s that there will be no more life. I know I should focus on connecting and grounding back to the self but in the past that has been with the belief that okay I am safe I am not going to die (right now). But what if Im told my time is coming up soon like with a terminal illness? Does this fear ease with acceptance of death? It seems easier when the worry is something other than death.

    • This is, indeed, where a spiritual practice becomes essential as it’s the only reliable anchor point that I know of that can sustain us through the fear of death, especially when that fear is right in front of us. There is nothing scarier than having a symptom that you think could be the worst (even though the chances of that at your age are quite slim), and the only solace is being about able to touch down into your deepest self or highest self and trust that: 1. You’re likely okay and 2. Whatever happens you will be okay. How can you know that if you’re not connected to something beyond this realm and these five senses? I encourage you to pray even if you don’t know who or what you’re praying to and use all of your resources right now to manage the anxiety as best you can. True to Sarah’s post, being in nature is one of the best spiritual practices and fastest routes to serenity during these times of high anxiety. It’s true medicine.

  • Alicia

    Always perfect timing with these insightful emails! Just when I thought that my anxiety was getting under control, life had other plans! Had been dealing with relationship anxiety and have taken your online courses. I was doing much better and knew the engagement was around the corner (engaged on September 1st) when I found out I’m pregnant! Feeling overwhelmed and sad that I didn’t get to “the other side” with my relationship anxiety before another major life event was placed in front of me (literally! lol). Reading your beautiful emails reminds me to focus and never give up trying to open my heart. Any words of wisdom for this situation? Thank you Sheryl!

  • Jake

    Is it possible to have your emotions shut down from your childhood?
    I feel like I have never been in touch with my feelings it’s like I can’t feel. I question my feelings towards my partner, kids family members. I’m so frustrated with this feeling so cold.

  • Leslie

    Greetings all,

    This is my first time posting, but I read regularly not only for Sheryl’s wisdom but for the wonderful comments that come from this community.

    I adored Sarah’s post. Not only is nature the perfect metaphor for the transitions our psyches experience, it is also who we are. We aren’t the keyboards we tap on or the cars we drive, we are beings like the squirrels in the trees and the bees, currently frantic to prepare for winter.

    When I’m upset (let’s be honest, when I’m freaking out!), I’ll go lay in the grass and watch the clouds. Remember doing that as a child? It feels like being plugged back in. Like connecting to something that’s bigger and real and definite.

    There are folks who advocate something they call “Earthing” or “Grounding,” which is a practice of getting your bare feet or body on the Earth to soak up all it’s electromagnetic goodness–or some such thing. Valid or not, a little lie down in the grass does wonders for me when the storm clouds are brewing in my brain and when life doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    Thank you, Sarah and Sheryl, for helping this community make more sense of our disconnected, modern lives.

    • Beautiful, Leslie. Thank you for sharing this. I do believe there is great healing just from walking barefoot on the earth, then lying down and staring into the sky.

  • Tatjana

    “Wishing for things to be different than they are is what creates suffering, not the situation itself”, “Misery is born from fighting what is.”
    These two sentences just made my day!

  • Mary Bassie

    What a wonderfully written article…When anxiety overwhelms me, I try to spend some time by the sea, just to look at the waves. Dear Sheryl, thank you for all your great articles. At the moment I’m suffering from severe relationship anxiety, focused on the age gap (25 years) between my partner and I. To cut a long story short, everyone including my therapist says that my doubts are a sign that I don’t really want him.When I don’t obsess about the future and the what ifs I feel fine. Your view on relationship anxiety is the only theory that could explain my thoughts and feelings, even though I still find myself doubting it as well. I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the first peaceful moments after months of torment.

  • I’m so very touched by all of these lovely comments, and happy to know my words have been helpful. I’m working on listening to them myself as I wait for my baby to make her appearance in this world! As they say, we teach what we need to learn. 🙂 much love to all…

  • Silver

    I broke up with her today, still I don’t consider her enough to be special. We don’t even go deeper in the relationship it’s very surface level and I tend to broke down my fear but I don’t. I still love beauty and the way people do in their life not by loving a person for who she is. It’s painful that I’m still in this condition that I don’t choose my partner and don’t consider her important. I asked her that I need time to work on myself rather than moving on in the relationship. I cried the moment that she kissed me goodbye earlier, still numbing the pain and avoiding it.