There’s a deep gloom in the forest around me. As I strain to see through the ranks of pine trunks everything recedes into darkness. Eyes now closed, I listen, raising my perception above the inner noise that I bring with me. Occasionally a branch cracks somewhere in the forest, crashing to the ground. It’s been stormy and there’s obviously a number of limbs yet to loose their grip on life.
I open my eyes and glance upwards, just to check! Yes, I’m safe here. Returning again to my sense of hearing I tune in to the breeze, noticing how the sigh of the Pine sounds different to the brighter voice of Birch.
Somewhere to my right a Woodpecker gets busy, hammering a signal through his realm, wishing to connect with a mate. I hope he’s successful, we could do with more Woodpeckers here.
Keeping my ears open I turn my attention to the scents around me. It’s not my strongest sense, I have to work at this one. Pine. Yes, the sharp resinous tang refreshes me, balanced by that wonderful earthy odour of mycelium in the ground around me.
Fungi chase through everything here…
Their mycelial threads linking a vast network, passing messages from tree to flower to spider to bacteria and beyond… perhaps to the stars. I can smell this happening, I’m sure I can.
Slowly I let my hands drop from my lap and onto the needle clad earth. I feel brownness, coldness. I flex my fingers, digging my nails gently into the humus, letting the cold damp thread up my skin.
I imagine the molecules of water climbing me, searching a way up, seeping one by one through my skin cells, alerting my nerves to their world. Something crawls over my hand, a spider maybe.
I resist the temptation to look and just accept that for a moment I am terra-firma for a fellow woodland walker. The walker gingerly makes her way to the underside of my wrist and now all of my focus is on this one spot of me, this one spot of forest. She’s probing me with two feet. Tasting me? Perhaps. Teaching me? Most certainly.
Forcing my attention away from her I close my fingers on a piece of ground, find a pair of pine needles and place them on my tongue. They taste as the air smells. Woody. Wild. Musky. Mildewy. With four senses engaged I open my eyes and am instantly awash with browns and greens. And whites, greys, reds, oranges, blues, yellows.
Even in this sombre pine forest the rainbow of life arcs through our existence. Every part of nature holds everything in its presence.
I now move my consciousness to my heart and using this other sense begin to ‘feel’ the forest. I let my heart beat its rhythm with the trees. My breathing slows, my lungs fill and empty, fill and empty with an ease that I remember from times long gone.
Childhood memories smile with me. My heart is home. I give myself to this place and it, in return, gifts me peace and oneness, beingness.
I feel ‘forest’ now. It’s a feeling that words cannot adequately capture. I don’t feel a part of the forest, no, it’s deeper than that. If you want to know what I mean go out to Nature and awaken each of your senses in turn, and then your heart.
Let your awareness drift down to the centre of your chest, let your heart open and swell with the heart of Nature. Then you too will struggle to find the words. You too will know what I mean. Perhaps not in your brain, but certainly in your heart, the bosom of emotion that speaks beyond language.
It’s time to play now…
Time to indulge in nature nurture. Unpacking my camera I imagine what it’s like to be a slug. Yes, why not! I get close to a mossy tree and immerse my senses in the dense swathes of saturated green. I inhale the mossy landscape, peer into the knot of it and stroke my fingers gently over the velvety surface.
Now I take my camera and journey through the wildscapes of the inner land, creating images which slug-me sees. It does make a difference.
Choosing Nature as teacher opens channels of communication and perception that speak ever so softly. Her voice is mostly drowned out in our civilised world, lost in a sea of soap opera and sleaze. However Nature’s door is never locked.
One gentle push is all it takes to gain access to her magical realms once more.