Nature’s Affirmations …
(incorporating ideas, and some words of wisdom, from Scottish Island Mum. See her Mindful Meditation by visiting her website; thank you S.I.M). Also visit Heather Gordon Young’s site and read more about nature’s affirmations: dolphins and woodlands etc
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what defines us, what affirms our place on this lovely, lonely planet spinning endlessly in space. We are so far from any potential neighbours that we might as well be alone in the universe. That sometimes makes me feel very small, very alone, very unconnected, as I’m sure it does many people.
Feeling connected … to people; to happenings; to communities; to nature; to the universe at large … is important, and something, I feel, many people in the 21st century are feeling a lack thereof. My view is, that is why so many people are searching for something that they cannot seem to identify – cut adrift from Mother Earth, the great Goddess Gaia.
Do we take our life affirmations from places outside of us, defining ourselves by other people’s expectations and labels eg our family, our work, our education, our religion, and our background? That’s fine if these things are/were positive experiences. What if they aren’t or weren’t? Traditionally, western therapy – whether formally or through the multitude of self-help books available on bookshop shelves, of which I’ve bought a shed full over the years – recommends the use of artificially designed affirmations to re-programme our feelings, our perceptions, our perspectives on life, to make us feel good about ourselves, as if we were machines just needing a reboot.
Wouldn’t it be better to affirm our existence from within by discovering those things that make us feel good about ourselves; taking up the responsibility for understanding and rebirthing ourselves. I’m not talking about materialistic things like chocolate, money, clothes, make-up, but those core things that link us to creation. Rather than ordering an external reboot – being our own modem, our own personal wi-fi, if you like.
My friend and fellow philosopher, healer, writer and artist – Scottish Island Mum – suggests that life is a deeply personal experience that we enter and leave by ourselves; and that we owe it to ourselves to discover what makes us happy.
(I so agree – which is why I set up the Happiness Group)
Sounds like a good plan, but where to begin to identify our own life enhancers, our own personal affirmations that we are alive and well and thriving?
The other evening I sat in my springtime emerging garden and wrote down a list of images that made me feel good at that time: the smell of lavender; the velvet touch of rose petals; the singing of birds, to name a few. I started to rearrange these into a poem. In doing so I realised I had a chronological story – the story of my emotions; the story of what makes me ‘feel alive’. The images I had identified really did seem to define the overall balance of my daily life. The words, and the images they evoke and were evoked by, raise my feelings of well-being every time I read the poem. It’s not a good poem by any literary standard, not even by any of my own poetry writing standards, but as a template for understanding my life, it’s not bad.
Scottish Island Mum suggests that such images can be used as affirmations to guide the way we live our lives. I have to admit that I have had very little success with typical therapeutic affirmations. The craft cupboard that stands by the table in my study/studio/conservatory is covered with commercially produced cards invoking such wisdom as:
There is plenty for everyone including me
My income is constantly increasing
… so why am I still struggling to live on a pension
I open new doors to life
I claim my own power, and I lovingly create my own reality
… so why am I constantly restless, why do doors remain shut, why do my dreams not awaken?
Despite repeating such affirmations, and they being visible at all times when I’m sitting here in my conservatory/study/studio – writing or painting or just day-dreaming – I remain slightly discontented with life, searching for … what exactly?
The view outside my window at this moment, as I sit typing: the play of light on leaves, the changing shapes and shadows, the glorious colours; the aromas and sounds that drift through my open doors, are far more effective in lifting my spirits. And when it’s grey and damp, or I’m just lonely, reading my simple poem reminds me of that sweeping sense of serenity and contentment that is quite mystical, and that I only get when I immerse myself in nature – even if this is only in my humble back garden in the middle of large northern city. Here is where I get my sense of self-worth from … from being connected to Nature, to Creation, to the Creator of All. The universe remains vast and aloof, but nature reminds me that I’m part of it; I’m real and loved.
(Also see my ramblings on Happiness).
So this poem then – these natural affirmations; here is Me, my life affirmed:
The scent of lavender and jasmine in the evening air
Entices the hypnotic drone of insects on the breeze
The furtive rustle of vary-green leaves in the trees
Reveals the nervous bustle of multitudinous birds in branches
The radiant flame of velvet rose petals aglow
From the reflections of lacy waving fern fronds underneath
The engine-throb of frog throats from the pond
Bass-backs the bobbing, shell-tapping beats of the thrush
The stealthy glance of a fluid feline on the hunt
Disturbs the homecoming haste of a spider on the path
The warbling love duet of a blackbird pair
Counters the lonesome flight and call of a single gull
The searching sonar flutter of bats upon the wing
Tracks the monochrome grace of a moth unaware
An artist’s brush of golden blush as the sun sets
Streaks the indigo-deep fall of night’s rich drapes
Drifting clouds fleeing across the deepening sky
Echoes a surfeit of creeping shadows all around
The cheery twinkle of heavenly lights turning on
Greet the shimmering silver sickle of a rising new moon
The warming smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen
Reflects the friendly glow of a home well loved, and welcoming
Was I surprised to find that nature has such an affirming effect on me? Well yes … and no! Yes because it’s only a few weeks ago that I thought I wasn’t connected to this Earth of ours, at all. But I’ve done a lot of thinking since then, made insights and connections, forgiven myself and others. I’ve discovered how much I love this Earth and how deeply I am connected though at different and varying levels from what I’d first imagined. It’s not happenstance that one of my first books (by Enid Blyton) described nature walks in the countryside, promoted getting down and dirty with leaves and soil and moss, encouraging its readers to participate in nature-inspired activities. Neither is it an accident that one of my most loved memories, is walking down a country lane with my father, long ago, collecting signs of Autumn for my school nature table (see post …). And it’s not a coincidence, either, that for fifteen years I ran a children’s WATCH group, encouraging an holistic approach to nature study involving poetry, song, art and ritual.
My writing – stories and poems – and my artwork is full of images of nature and the elements, the mythology and archetypal energy that diffuses from within them, and the feelings they evoke. I fully support the Ecobardic movement (that seeks to reconnect people to the Earth through story, poetry, song and art), and my spirituality celebrates the turn of seasons and lunar cycles, rather than follows traditional religious teachings.
So, why would I be surprised to find that it is Nature that affirms my very being? Yet I am! I am surprised at the very simplicity of the idea, and surprised that it has taken me so long to understand myself even though the clues were there all along.