Nature’s Cure for the Blues

dogwood-flower

Over the past while I have been feeling a bit down. My life is on a cusp of change, but I am spinning my wheels. Do you know what I mean? Have you felt like that?

Old patterns are relentless, but new vistas are enticing me with beautiful and powerful images. The stress of living in a redundant mental space is wearing on me. I want to move forward, but I am caught by habit.

What to do? Well, whenever I am confronted with stasis — when I feel stuck in a lifeless rut — I return to the basics. And what can be more basic than nature? Nature has balance and it moves gracefully with change. Nature can stimulate us likewise, to regain our balance, and to accept change in stride as we move through life.

And so we went on a camping trip.

Wells Gray Provincial Park

For four glorious days nothing existed but the eternal NOW. The old patterns were on hold.

We would sit and relax by the powerful Clearwater River, entranced by its magic, or we would hike up into the forest. No mixed messages, no ambiguity, nothing nebulous — just clear choices with good results. Well, there are mosquitoes and bears, natural dangers and other possible disasters, but we accept that risk and take action accordingly.

We have been in the wilderness quite a bit. We’ve hiked in alpine meadows rated prime Grizzly territory, and canoe-trip’d in remote areas. We have learned to the accept risk to gain the rewards. We know how to behave if we encounter a bear when hiking, or dangerous water in the canoe. That knowledge frees us to explore and to enjoy ourselves.

That is perhaps one of nature’s best lessons: life is risky but worth it! When we choose to really live, we risk losing it all, but that is the only way we can experience a full life. Shrinking from risk is no life at all.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

… Anais Nin

This was just a fairly civilized camping trip; not a dig-your-own-latrine-in-the-bush type camping trip. We tented in Falls Creek Campground, complete with fire pit, outhouses, and camp fees. Nature knows nothing of the amenities of the campground, though. The area is wild and beautiful. Venture a bit from camp onto the forest trails and routes, and you are in another world, light-years away from old patterns.

We know this area well. We have been coming to this part of the world for decades, and it holds precious memories for us. Some view points have become obstructed by the growth of the trees and new ones have presented themselves. A fresh bear’s den that we discovered 25 years ago is now collapsed into the lush undergrowth; no longer as mysterious and intimidating as it was. The land has shifted and the dead-fall that formed the framework of the den has decayed. The bears have abandoned it as a viable hibernation abode.

Well it wasn’t a lucky home for the first bear that hibernated there. Winter buried the den in ten feet of snow, but hungry wolves sniffed him out, dug him out, and ate him. Nature can be ruthless depending on your situation.

Perhaps that is another important lesson that nature teaches us: stuff happens regardless of our expectations and desires. We are not the center of the universe. There are no universal imperatives at work to ensure our happiness and security. It is entirely up to us. Live fully, and live NOW. This present moment is the only moment that is real. It is the only moment we are offered… ever!

“Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

… Kahlil Gibran

Nature Never Fails

So there I am standing on trembling ground in front of Bailey’s Chute, an awesome piece of powerful water on the Clearwater River, and I am thinking of my life. What should I do? How will I proceed from here? And the river provides the answer: do what is in your nature and move around, through, or over, any obstacle in your path.

A powerful river is on an eternal course. Its nature is to move relentlessly forward. And the lesson from nature is to do similar. Wild rivers are a good analogy for dealing with challenging times. The soft and malleable qualities of water can overcome the hardest of obstacles. If we are listening then, nature is telling us that the softest aspect of our nature is our greatest strength. When we apply our sensitive natures over time, we will move around, through, or over, our challenges — just like a powerful river.

“The softest thing in the world can override the hardest. Such a thing seems to issue forth from nowhere, yet it penetrates everywhere. It does not contend but it surely wins.”

… Lao Tse

As I think back on those few beautiful days in nature, I am reminded of the following lessons:

  • Be in the NOW, always
  • Be aware of yourself and your circumstances
  • Simplify your life each and every day
  • Be willing to accept risks that you understand
  • Life is change–go with it
  • Take action that is consistent with your nature
  • Be persistent, keep moving forward, and you will reach the ocean of your dreams

Perhaps they can serve you also. To reinforce them, I encourage you to take your own trip into whatever nature is around you. Nature will never let you down. Whatever it is you wish to know, nature will have the answer.

Over to you now!

17 thoughts on “Nature’s Cure for the Blues

  1. david

    Yes! I know exactly what you mean!

    Been feeling it too – that change up ahead, which for me not yet has form, but seems to make it hard for me to be excited about the things that interested me before.

    My way is similar to yours – trying to stay in the present and not spin stories around how good or bad or whatever it is (and not beating myself up when I catch myself doing so :), along with lots of physical exercise (running and cycling), and walking around barefoot.

  2. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi David,

    As an ex-runner and cyclist I totally relate. There are so many ways a person can immerse themselves in the NOW. My Chi Gung and Meditation practice is another powerful way for me to maintain that perspective, physically and mentally. I like your practice of walking (and Running it seems) barefoot. Children know the value of that. Ouch! And the pain of hitting a sharp stone 🙂

    John

  3. Joe Wilner

    John,

    Great post and story. There is something about nature that can bring us closer to a spiritual relationship. I do enjoy taking walks and being outdoors, (weather permitting), but I feel that I am still disconnect with nature in general. I’m making a focused effort to recognize the oneness between it all.

  4. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Joe,

    Our society in general makes it almost natural to disconnect with nature, as we have everything we need (it seems) in the city, and city-life can be a vibrant immersive experience.

    An effective way to reestablish a connection with nature is to plan a trip into nature that will call for you to depend upon nature; a wilderness trip where you will have to watch the weather, your footing, be alert for animals… in other words, a trip that will bring out the good animal in you. It usually takes a couple days for most people to let go of their expectations of comfort, and the annoyance of having to deal with bugs or what have you, but then everything can come together and you just melt into nature as all of your senses become keen, including your sense of beauty and strength, and your sense of self.

    A refresher like this in nature can keep us grounded. The root of nature is within all of us, and when we discover this within ourselves, we can bring this nature into the city with us. There doesn’t have to be a disconnect. In a way the city is just another part of nature — human nature — and to connect with our human nature in the most balanced and strong manner, there is no teacher so effective as the wilderness.

    Best to you,
    John

  5. Prashant | Weight Loss Tips

    You described it perfectly when you said –
    “.. but the stress of living in a redundant mental space is wearing on me. I can feel the change but I am caught by habit. ”

    I occasionally get this feeling, too, and I too like to reach out to nature as a solution, if I can. It’s not called “Mother Nature” for no reason 🙂 Even the smartest and the wisest amongst us are nothing but little kids before nature, with the need to seek solace or guidance from her every now and then.

    A beautiful and heartfelt article, yet again! Thank you so much for your insights, I always enjoy reading them.

  6. Warren Davies

    There’s some great research going on at the moment about exposure to nature. In fact, it’s been going on for decades, but I guess with the extra ‘exposure’ that green issues are getting it’s getting more attention. Basically, the idea is that nature helps to replenish our ‘mental fatigue’. The natural environment is inherently captivating to us (maybe some evolutionary thing going on there), and because it takes no effort to control attention in a natural environment, the mental reserves, will power etc., begin to replenish.

    And there seem to be health benefits too, I massive study in the Netherlands found that people who lived closer to green spaces enjoyed better health, and they couldn’t account for this through ‘drifting’, where healthy people might have been drawn to green area.

    Here in the UK, the government recently gave 7.5m to the charity Mind to fund projects to build greenspaces, so things are happening.

    Glad you enjoyed the trip! What I’ve been thinking of doing John, as you mention, is a wilderness trip that also includes things like teaching what to eat, build shelters and so on. That is definitely on my to do list!

    Best,
    Warren

  7. Kaushik

    What a wonderful description of the the cusp of transformation. I think we all experience it, though many of us are not conscious of it. To be conscious of it, to allow the disturbing states, to watch…there is much wisdom in that. And nature is our best teacher.

    Thanks!

  8. John Rocheleau Post author

    Warren,

    Thanks for the heads up on that study regarding the benefits of exposure to nature. Your summary of it makes sense to me. They don’t call it natural for nothing right? It IS natural for us to be in nature, and it is natural for us to come into our own nature within it.

    Of course life is never that simple. If we spend most of our time in the city we won’t be too accepting of nature in its full unedited version, if say, we embarked on a wilderness trip. So like any transition, it requires an adjustment period. We need to release our conditioned expectations and remove the template that we normally view our world through. Once we do that, we can fully experience the natural world; the raw, unfiltered, eternally present world that nature always offers us.

    I lived in London for 6 years by the way. I was always amazed and completely enchanted by the amount and quality of the wild and green spaces in England. Such a small country by comparison to Canada, but the beauty and power of the natural world in England is alive and well. You just have to seek it out. But that is true no matter where we live. We still have to make that decision to accept nature.

    John

  9. Liara Covert

    From the perspective of mind, everything changes perpetually. In the realm of consciousness, everything is happening now and reality does not change.

    Only when one chooses to abide in the mind is one prompted to judge the external world and seem to experience discomfort. As one moves outside the mind, everything is perfect, including the essence of being, wherever one is and whatever one feels.

  10. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Liara

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    There is a state of being and awareness that allows us to live with acceptance and an understanding of cause and effect. It is a powerful state of being. A simple visual analogy might be a powerful orb with arms radiating out from this centre. When we are in the centre, we can understand the nature of the radiating arms that move out from it because we are immersed in the source power, and directly connected to all of it’s manifestations. When we drift from that place into one of the arms, we loose the perspective of the centre and all the other radiating arms, and of course we lose much of the power of that state of being.

    As we learn to identify and access this centre, we gain power and understanding, and we lose our passionate affair with pain and suffering. At a deeper level within this centre, we also lose our false sense of joy and bliss that often occurs at the beginnings of an inner quest.

    🙂
    John

  11. Robin Easton

    Dear John, This is one of the most powerful and beautifully insightful posts I’ve read!1 I just LOVE it. This morning I shared it on facebook and twitter, as I want others to experience the poetry of Nature still inherent in your words, still clinging to your soul, that which you brought back with you, and BECAME you. Just BEAUTIFUL!!!

    There are so many comments I could make here but it would end up writing a book, which I just wrote. LOL! So I will just say this, not only is the post exquisite, but it is filled with wisdom that comes straight from your deep union with Nature. And your responses are whole posts in themselves. Just remarkable and thrilling.

    I especially love these sets of words: “And the river provides the answer: do what is in your nature and move around, through, or over, any obstacle in your path.” Just stunningly beautiful! “Do what is in your Nature…” YES! Oh you are wonderful.

    And then this is off the charts: ” If we are listening then, nature is telling us that the softest part of our nature is indeed the strongest.” YES YES YES! I relate to this so strongly that I have no words. You have said it all. And I am deeply grateful to experience these words here this morning. Thank you dear wise John!. Hugs, Robin

  12. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hello Robin

    Thank you for sharing your always bared soul. You are such an open and willing explorer; never afraid to seek life out, to feel it, and to say how you feel. I think that being an explorer of life, nature, consciousness is just about the greatest thing a person can do with their life. It is rich in so many ways.

    Thank you for the texture and depth you add 🙂

    John

  13. Valerie Hausladen

    I was so intrigued by the insightfulness of your comment on my professionaldestiny.com blog that I wanted to come here and find out more of what you have to say.

    I’m in total agreement with you. We all have the ability and potential to lead a profound life… and a close look at nature is a stunning reminder of that.

    Thanks for such a wonderful site!

  14. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hello Valerie,

    Thank you so much for visiting. I am glad that I discovered your blog also.

    Yes we all have the ability to lead a profound life, because life IS profound, and there is a core within each of us that connects profoundly to life in our unique way. It is just like nature; all of the various elements are brilliant in their own functioning and specialization, and they all come together to form a cohesive and perfect whole.

    Best,
    John

  15. Bern

    I too like Canadian dogwood or bunchberry as shown in your header John. The berries are orange and I occasionally eat a few to blend our energies together. This then too changes everything……our perception is altered forever more by entering into a new relationship with the world.

    Resolving our fears is another extremely powerful method of completely transforming our lives to a heightened and more self empowering perspective. If we perceive there is a risk with our relationship with Nature…..then it is granted to us and we then try to keep the danger at bay. One then becomes aware of the danger of uniting with this self-imposed risk we ourselves programmed into our lives.

    When we feel through direct experience there is no longer any risk, then we no longer invite this polarized energy into our lives. The relationship has been mended and a state of love has been stepped into. One is then at peace with the object we once kept at bay and that we kept guard over. Through this new love….the energy of the once feared object merges with us, and we become One with them.

    Life then Transforms, and how we perceive the world is altered and heightened forever more to come.

    Finding our Self in Nature truly does Cure everything. In this way, we become everything and are becoming to everything within the grand scenes of Life.

  16. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi Bern,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading some. And, oooh yeah, Bunch Berries are one of my favorites, as are Huckleberries and Blueberries. I agree that whatever we do in nature affects everything on some level. We are animals first, and nature is our home. It is curious, although also quite natural, that we have separated from the natural world to a great degree as a species. Of course in a sense, all worlds that we can occupy with awareness and intent are natural to us. But still, it is curious that perhaps most people look upon wild nature just as a place to relax or as a temporary remedy or grounding.

    There is such a difference between an occasional relationship with nature, and living as part of nature. I believe that one can live within nature even if they happen to live in New York City or London England. As you imply, everything requires energy from us. When we can let go of the fears, the walls, and the separations that we employ, we can live with an amazing awareness and experience that merges and is immersed perfectly in nature. You would know this better than most 🙂

    Thanks,
    John

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