Making Nature Matter: How Inspiration is Instructive

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“Creativity inspires authenticity. The greatest artist is in the moment, and simply allows.” ~ Adriene Mishler, Yoga with Adriene 

I wake up and walk outside to look over the beautiful horizon, and immediately am moved to write. Poetry that would normally take hours or even days to write back home is now pouring out of my pen and into my journal as if someone is whispering the lines into my ear.

I rise with the expanse that rises alongside me
Marveling at its beauty
While marveling at how little I stop to take in its beauty in the first place
Life is funny like that
You rush through it without realizing what is even there
What you may have lost
What is still open for you to gain

41732493_10101664747883939_1203988730180796416_oThe lack of hustle and bustle can do wonders for clearing your brain and sparking innovationThere’s even scientific research claiming that spending time in nature can indeed inspire creativity. It certainly did for me.

It’s overall good for your health too. Studies have shown that being in nature can improve memory, increase focus, reduce anxiety and depression, and act as an overall de-stressing agent. When I was at Knoll Farm for the Labor Day Namaste Getaway yoga retreat, I’ve never felt so relaxed. I used the words “marvel” and “wonder” more times than I could count; the scenery is just breathtakingly beautiful.

Additionally, the farm would surprise us with little poetic treasures that seemed to spring up throughout the trip. In one example, I found a Robert Frost anthology on a bookshelf and read poems that inspired my own takes of his work. Here’s an example:

RF and RBW

Another gem from the farm was when a bee flew onto my backpack…to drop off a dead fly. In the spirit of my last post, where else would I have even noticed such a fascinating (and kind of morbid) gift?

One final example of the many serendipitous moments that happened while on the farm. Erica, one of our trip leaders, opened up a random book right before our morning practice and used it to lead us in meditation. I think it was perfect:

Anything that goes up into the sky will fall down again to the earth, pulled by the force of gravity. These energies of illusion, these decorations and worldly beauties can never reach great heights, but they still do attract you. This is the way these saktis, or energies and elemental miracles, work.

~M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen’s Come to the Secret Garden: Sufi Tales of Wisdom, p. 125

Elemental miracles indeed. Funny how these “worldly beauties” are never treated as such. I’d like to flip the script to do more mindfully appreciate them, how about you?

THIS POST IS THE SECOND OF A SERIES BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE AT THE LABOR DAY NAMASTE GETAWAY 2018. FEEL FREE TO SHOW SOME LOVE BY SUBSCRIBING FOR UPCOMING POSTS AT THE SIDEBAR TO YOUR RIGHT. ➡️ ❤️

What Happens When Beetles Teach You Life Lessons

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As I looked up from my journal, I noticed something moving on the ground.

A beetle.

“He’s pretty big,” I thought. “I hope he doesn’t crawl this way all over my stuff.”

Suddenly, as if he was listening, the beetle turned left—away from my yoga mat—right on cue. Looking a bit further up, I noticed another beetle on its back, clearly dead.

“A fallen foe?” I wondered. I decided to continue watching the beetle who appeared to be the victor of whatever went down between him and the other creature, and noticed he was actually limping.

“Poor guy,” I thought. Wow, how quickly I went from wanting him to move away from me to sympathizing with his current state.

Now intrigued, I watched him pull himself along the floorboards of the Mountain Yurt—where we finished a yoga practice merely minutes before. He didn’t make it very far before he got caught on the edge of a floorboard and flipped over onto his back.

I immediately sprang up from my seated position on my yoga mat and walked over. Still too afraid to touch the insect that caught my attention, I used some leftover business cards in my backpack to set him upright, but he kept getting flipped over again and again.

Finally, after several tries, I scooped the beetle up and brought him outside. I then picked up my yoga mat and journal and started making the trek back down to the barn, where my group would be gathering for lunch.

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This encounter with my newfound beetle friend happened a few weeks ago at Knoll Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. I was there for the third annual Labor Day Namaste Getaway led by yoga instructors (and my friends) Kristin Walsh and Erica Schommer. This trip was my second time at the retreat and my second time at Knoll Farm. Surrounded by nature in all its beauty and splendor.

…and here I am, sitting a huge Mountain Yurt, alone, staring at a beetle. The whole time all I could think of was: since when do we have time to watch beetles like this? 

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In a world full of distractions (both online and offline), folks can find it difficult to slow down, savor each moment, and keep in mind what’s important.

I think Morrie Schwartz said it best in Mitch Albom’s beautiful novel, Tuesdays with Morrie: “…most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.” 

I too am guilty of this. I wake up, automatically look at my device, get ready for the day, drive to work to stare at another device for eight hours, go home to watch Netflix on yet another device, go to bed after final moments with my original device, rinse, and repeat.

But not in Waitsfield, Vermont.

No, the reason why I look forward to this retreat SO much and came back a second time (and hopefully will return more and more times!) is that I am forced out of this senseless, robotic routine.img_4875-e1537021434266.jpg

I am forced to look outward AND inward.

Yes, it can be pretty intense…but refreshing and needed. There are SO many things you don’t notice when you’re running around “half asleep.” The gorgeous sunrises, the delightful moments of stillness, the fresh, crisp air.

And yes, you may even miss the epic journey of a tiny beetle crossing wooden planks.

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This post is the first of a series based on my experience at the Labor Day Namaste Getaway 2018. Feel free to show some love by subscribing for upcoming posts at the sidebar to your right. ➡️ ❤️