Engaging with Nature to unlock our creative potential
Often we struggle to comprehend how Nature can be imbued with wisdom. After all, we are taught that intelligence and wisdom stem from nowhere else but our human brains. Yet, recent findings in neuroscience, psychology, medicine, ecology and quantum theory are shedding light on what the wisdom traditions of East and West and the ancient shamanic cultures have long known: there is more to Nature than meets the eye.
Once upon a time, all human societies were immersed in Nature, rooted in its ways where other-than-human life and Mother Earth were understood as part of a greater kinship, a collective within which we form a part, like a thread in a beautiful, continuously evolving tapestry. Back then, we viewed Nature and all matter as imbued with spirit; everything was animate to differing degrees. Matter was sacred as was each and every expression of Nature. The ancient Presocratic Greek philosophers drew on this shamanic heritage. They perceived wisdom – Goddess Sophia – as flowing throughout life. To tune into this wisdom was the way to attain Goodness, Truth and Beauty. Here one found the right way of doing things and the laws needed for enabling right society to form. Here we find the origins of Western philosophy – the word philosophy coming from the Greek philo meaning love and Sophia the goddess of wisdom flowing throughout Nature.
Over time, however, our Western logic has tended towards what today we call ‘rationalism’ and ‘materialism’ where Nature is defined and categorised into abstract bits of matter devoid of wisdom; the only purpose being commoditisation for human material betterment. Yet, more and more people these days are re-cognising that there is more to life than commoditisation. However, on a day-to-day basis our individual and collective behaviour spawns from a way of attending that perceives us as separate from the very matrix of life we live within. To perceive life in this way corrupts us from our very Nature and leads to all sorts of unsustainable downstream ramifications – egotism, domination, wars, ecological destruction, psychic suffering, selfishness and greed. This flawed logic sets us apart from each other and Nature. It is what Einstein spoke of as an optical illusion of consciousness which now manifests as a devastating delusion. It underpins Neo-Darwinism, colonialism and capitalist consumerism.
The good news is we can deal with the mother of all problems at source by re-membering what flows within and all around us. It costs nothing and yet provides profound benefits, healing ourselves and our ways of relating with others. Opening ourselves up to Nature allows us to quieten our chattering ego-minds. Sitting next to a tree, on the grass, or a park bench and letting go of our busy-ness can allow for a slowing down in our minds and bodies to occur. Being present in Nature for a handful of minutes (hopefully more) allows for a softening of our problem-questing, anxiety-accumulating ego-mind. Our seemingly insatiable desire to ‘have’, ‘want’, ‘own’, ‘consume’ wanes as a deeper authenticity opens in our awareness.
Much has been studied and written about our left and right brain hemispheres and how they attend to reality in very different ways – the right sees life in its dynamic, flowing, connective way, and the left abstracts parts of what the right hemisphere sees so that it can define and categorise it, yet in-so-doing severing ‘things’ from their lived-in context. As we quieten ourselves within Nature, evidence shows that our left and right brain hemispheres cohere, and if we relax further we may allow our heart and brain to entrain bringing all sorts of physiological and psychological healing. This is where we find a fresh logic unshackled from the illusion of separation.
As we open ourselves up to this deeper Nature, our grasping for commodification lessens and our perception horizon widens and deepens. Here we open up to the ‘ground of being’ which has been referred to as the Imaginal Realm, Collective Unconscious, Cosmic Intellect, Tao or Divine Ground by great minds before us. As Carl Jung knew, this is where our psychic quicksilver lies. Here our rational and intuitive reasoning cohere and we may sense a presence that is very real and potent yet intangible. It is what quantum scientists allude to as an all-pervasive ‘quantum vacuum’ flowing through everything. This is where we find true inspiration beyond facts and figures, digits and designs; here we become inspired by and in harmony with Nature. The Eye of the Heart that Jesus, Buddha and other prophets point to is opened. It may feel like an epiphany or like ‘being in the zone’ whereupon we sense something clear and present within and around us, where everything seems to flow effortlessly and synchronistically. It is this same ‘ocean’ that artists, creatives and performers as well as athletes and leaders drink from when they are realising their full potential (or rather they are allowing something greater to permeate their ego).
And so, when someone asks me ‘what can we learn from Nature?’, I would say that, at one level, we may learn to quieten our minds, release tensions and toxicity in our bodies and put ourselves in a better mind-set to relate in the world. At another level, we may learn to realise that our ‘bodymind’ can tune-in to wisdom beyond the confines of our self-limiting ego-consciousness. Here we may find balance, patience, intuitive insight, well-being and creativity while releasing out-dated mental patterns and configuring new ones. To attune with the ground of our being is the most radical of all actions whether activist or accountant, politician or musician. The transformational times we now find ourselves in demand we activate this fresh yet timeless consciousness, now and for all time.
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