The Ethers Emerge

I have come to realize that when there is erosion - when there are larger bits of the earth being ground into smaller bits - in that space - something is released - particles, gasses, elixirs, ethers, essences -

When the wind blows on the cornice and sends ice crystals into whirling funnels - when water rolls over a sand bed and sends up plumes of granules, dirt in the wind, bits of tree, flower, branches blowing by in gale force - when there is sufficient power to move pieces of the earth around and reshape the land - there is power there - there is energy and something is released -

Maybe that is why I love rivers so much - because I know that always when I am floating on a river or when I sit next to one that not far from me there is a process at work - that the water at its deepest and haviest and most powerful is moving and grinding away at the bedrock beneath me. I remember once hearing from some friends in CHile that had just paddled on a river close to Santiago - they said the sound of the whitewater - the roar of the water on the surface - was drowned-out by the clacking of the boulders thrashing about below their hulls.

That kind of force releases bits and pieces - shards of rock are bludgeoned from large boulders and they become rocks and those become pebbles and those become sand and those become talc and those become the ethers of rivers - glacial flour - the flour of the river - a faint dust from boulder to dust and all done by water. When that happens - there is more surface area to react - like the classic chemistry demonstration: candle in the bottom of a sealed five gallon bucket with a turkey baster of flour sprayed into it. Boom!

All that surface area of the flour granules burns immediately and there is a large explosion. The more surface area, the more opportunity for reaction.

More opportunities for reaction... opportunities for connection. When I am surrounded by the tiny bits and motes of the earth and life and body floating around in nature that are not filtered out I am bathed in some of the wisdom of the place. I take it into my body. Breathe it in. Since I am in the middle of all of that surface area I too have more opportunity to burn and connect and react with more of that place.

So when the water flows or the wind blows and things begin to move, to sway and grind and roll around, life is more animate. It is more spirited. The holy belly is unzipped... the ethers emerge.

Sense Photographs

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I have a favorite writing activity  when sitting in Nature. It's simple and it alway brings me further in.

I follow my intuitive heart to an appealing spot to sit. Once I find the spot and make sure it is the right one, I take out my sit pad and maybe put on an extra layer to ensure I will remain comfortable while sitting. I might take a drink of water, or maybe have a snack. I take care of my needs.

Then I open my journal to a blank page and write,

 "I see..." and I look around and feast on the visual stimulation that greets my eyes - then I write all of the things I see. I write for a while - I try to capture all of the sights I am seeing - I get into the details and describe as best I can.

Next I write,

 "I hear..." and I do the same thing - focussing on specifics of what I hear and being as accurate as I can. 

Then,

 "I smell..."

 "I feel..."

 "I taste.."

And finally

 "I feel (in my heart)..."

I describe what I am sensing as accurately as I can. Each sense gets at least a paragraph....or more. I give myself over to the task of capturing in words all that I am sensing.

My goal for this is to create a piece of writing that will transport me back to this natural place when I read it in the future.

It is a written down, sense-based photograph.

By taking the time to focus on each of my senses and writing down what I am sensing, I go deeper into the moment and into my relationship with the Earth. My mind doesn't wander when I am engaged in this way.

I am more present.

They're worth reading later too. I collect them.

Good Racooning

The guide is not the teacher. Nature is the teacher. The guide is a space holder, an inviter, a person with ideas and suggestions. And a risk manager and caretaker who knows the cardinal rule of guiding well:

 "Bring 'em back alive."

And they carry first aid kits and satellite phones.

Raccoon in the First Nation Story, Jumping Mouse, is the guide. He is not particularly flashy or noticeable behind his mask. He understands that his little brother, Mouse, is looking for the source of the roaring in his ears. He takes him to the river, the source of the roaring, efficiently introduces him to Frog (The Spirit of Nature) and then he rolls - beats feat and goes in search of some food he can wash in the river. He makes sure Mouse is safely with Frog, then fades away to take care of his own needs.

He doesn't hang out and tell stories about all the other mice he's led to the River, doesn't brag about his accomplishments or talk about what a great guide he is. He just gets his client (Mouse) to the bank safely and introduces him to the next stage of his grand and transformative Adventure in the threshing hold of the Wilderness.

"Talk to Frog"  - that's it.

I admire and aspire to guide like Raccoon. Simple, safe, minimal intrusion with maximum opportunity for the client to receive a teaching from Frog (Nature).

Thanks Raccoon. Strong work. Barely even noticed you.

And with that said, Raccoon's role is absolutely critical. Mouse's journey would not have happened without him. He facilitates Mouse's connection. He's a logistician mostly with a sprinkle of Wise Animal— but not a show boat — just doing his job, moving curious Mice to the River. Show 'em the source of the roaring in their quivering, perceptive ears. Then....

it's Peace Out.

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Entering

Nature is three dimensional. 

For example, a forest has length and width but also depth. The distance from loamy floor to sun-bathed  crown can sometimes be two or three hundred feet.

Deep container. 

When I move into the forest I enter it,  insert myself and my sense organs into the living body of the forest. It surrounds me from all directions - 360 degrees - up, down and to the sides.

In contrast, developed landscapes seems to have only length and width - a predominantly flat land. There are stairs and elevators that transport me to different levels in tall buildings but the levels themselves are flat— a series of connected platforms I can easily navigate. I am not challenged to think of my world as having any more than two dimensions most times. 

But Nature reminds me I live in a three dimensional womb-like container.

This is especially apparent on contact zones - borders between two and three dimensional natural communities, like when meadow meets forest.

I stand in a grassy meadow and appreciate the openness and sights that land on my eyes from a distance. And there is an obvious line - a border where the meadow grasses abut the first rank of forest trees - two dimensional meadow meets three dimensional forest. I try to notice these doorways - portals into more-apparent three dimensional Nature.

As I cross I sense the front of my body - my nose, cheeks, chest, the fronts of my legs as they pierce the membrane of the forest container. I am enveloped by the sights, sounds and sensations of this different natural community as I cross. 

Yet even when I'm inside a forest I sometimes get more interested and focussed on the two dimensional forest floor, the trail I am walking. I remind myself to sense up and down, to be open and to accept the sense-stimulus that comes from above and below as well as front, back and to the sides.

I am surrounded on all sides by gifts and offerings.

I keep myself oriented this way — open to receive and taste the flavors of three dimensional awareness.

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She Abides

When I walk in more developed areas - cities, towns, villages - settlements - places where the humans have developed the land and covered it with roads and dwellings, I look around and spy the Wild Earth that the infrastructure is built upon. Sometimes I have to look into the distance for the crest of a near hill or ridge - I look for the roll and shape of the earth beneath the skin of development and paths of busy people, hunkered over devices, rushing along. 

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Sometimes I play a game with myself and imagine that the concrete disappears - that suddenly I have stepped into a time machine and gone back to before the burgeoning expanse of humanity came to the place - I pretend that the roads, buildings, cars, concrete and blacktop vanish and there it is - the Earth - the wild world that abides beneath the encrustments of humanities often unconscious behavior.

 

I feel comforted, supported knowing that Earth abides beneath the sidewalk.  Urban/suburban development is new. The bulk of history is one of a fecund, soft, flowing ecology - a living breathing Earth filled with relationships.

See the land beneath the city - this kind of imagining has lead me to find the topography of developed areas - I find drainages, I see where the land has clefts, valleys, promontories that so often are obscured by the bridges, roads, and buildings of modern society. By pretending that  the development is gone I am able to appreciate and investigate nature in places where it seems to be absent. But Nature is always present. It does not matter what we have clothed her with - she is there - beneath the development.

She abides.

CHILL

Samuel L Jackson in Do The Right Thing  

Samuel L Jackson in Do The Right Thing  

 

Without getting into specifics, today is a big day.

Tomorrow may be bigger.

In the days that come, make time to connect to your larger body.

 

Grounding and connecting will be important.

 

Walk into Nature.

 

Take off your shoes. Touch a tree.

 

Breathe. Inhale through your nose and smell.

 

Look around.

 

Say hello and thank you to everything.

 

There is SO MUCH to be grateful for.

Myopia

 

Riparian corridor of The Grande Ronde

Riparian corridor of The Grande Ronde

There are certain rivers that I know quite well through my work guiding on them over the years. Most of these riparian pathways I have seen in wet, flooding Spring, Summer, and cool, slow Fall. The majority of my focus for all of these river miles, days, and hours has been on the river itself  - specifically on the boulders, pillows, waves, holes, and clear moving sluices for which I aim. Mostly I find success in focussing on the way through - the path.

 

When rapids cease and the water runs smooth I still am drawn to the river and the bank - scanning for Blue Heron, Otter, Salmon, Steelhead, Elk, Wolves, Golden Eagle, Black Bear, Cougar, Bald Eagle, Bighorn Sheep, Canyon Wren, Swainson's Thrush, Ouzel, Kingfisher, Osprey, Cutthroat and Golden Trouts. My focus is on the riparian corridor. It is where I camp and work as well: the beaches, the banks, the cobble bars, high benches but all of it is close to the river. I am always on the same path. Yes,  the path changes from day to day - it is a dynamic and flowing system as is all of nature,  but it is this focus on that thin ribbon of wilderness I write about today.

 

You see, I think I'm missing out.

 

I need to get off the river and take more hikes - explore some terrestrial corridors and take a break from the riparian - even though I love it so much. I have found value in taking hikes up canyon walls to get my bearings— to feel and more deeply know these incredible places I am honored to live and work in.

Above the Grande Ronde River

Above the Grande Ronde River

 

When I take the time to get away from the river, take a hike and get above it I appreciate and understand where I am. The river is a way in, but maybe I am missing out on a deeper connection to the place I am flowing through by not getting away and above the river to appreciate how it is connected to the larger, living, fecund body of the canyons that it has carved - the peaks that surround it, the buttes, cliffs, and battlements through which it flows.

 

Here's to forays off well known paths.

 

And to the pleasure and wisdom that come from novel explorations.

Hand Hearts

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When I am in nature I try to connect deeply. I try to awaken my nervous system as best I can. The palms of my hands are potent tools for nature connection. They manipulate, massage, feel, sense, explore, gather information, bring food to my mouth.

When I awaken and partner with my hands as I go deeper into a sensual connection with Nature I feel their power - their possibility to take me deeper.  

Aligned with this is the Hindu system of Chakras which assigns many sub chakras to the hands with the ones in the palms being described as "little heart chakras" - red or gold in color. They are connected to the heart chakra and thus quite powerful in their ability to feel and express love, compassion and gratitude.

 

Try This:

When in a peaceful soul nurturing natural setting rub your hands together and generate some heat in the palms of your hands. Wake them up - get the blood moving there. Now bring your hands slightly apart and feel for a ball of energy that comes forth in that space. Enjoy it. Play with it. Bring your hands apart further and shape this warm ball of energy between your hands. Now take your hands and place them on a nearby rock or tree or tuft of grass. Keep feeling through your hands. Imagine the energy that comes from your hands going into the earth through this connection. Imagine energy coming from the Earth and into you through the hearts in your hands. Feel it flowing up your arms, down into your heart. Breathe.

 

Breathe.

 Feel that connection. Awaken the hearts in your hands. Connect them to the heart in your chest. Connect them to the heart of the Earth. Now take them from the rock or tree and place them on your chest, belly or both. Bring it in. 

 

Keep Breathing.

 

 

Subtle Dance

Sometimes in nature I sway. I sway with the wind as the trees do. I am affected by the wind - I sense and feel the rhythms in it. Even when the wind is not blowing or the tide is not lapping luxuriously upon the shore  - I sense rhythm in nature. I feel its beat and sway.

Try a sway sometime.

Keep the movements small.  Listen into them. Stay with the  small movements— no need to make it big or extreme. Subtle is nice. Just a little movement  - integral, truthful movement from that which is moving... Always. Keep moving. Keep moving.

Try this:

After arriving at a pleasing natural place, stop and breathe a few breaths. Make them slow and conscious breaths - pranayama. Now ground through your feet...slight bend to your knees... straighten your spine, imagine the wire running from sacrum to crown, pulling you gently upwards. Keep breathing. Shift your weight from side to side slowly and gently.

Sway with the deep beat of nature. Stay with it for as long as feels comfortable.

You're dropping in. Drop into rhythm - the heartbeat of your larger body - the Earth.

Connect.

Keep breathing.

Sway.

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Nature Child

I was at Olmstead Point, a vista parking area in Yosemite National Park one day many years ago when I saw the power and wisdom of a child's curiosity for nature. A boy bounded from a mini van followed by his attendant parents. He immediately hopped over the small rock wall between the parking area and the wild world of granite landscape and began looking around, exploring. His parents followed. The boy was the leader - he guided his parents into the mysteries of the glaciated rock shelves, boulders, and creeklets. I witnessed his curiosity and sense of adventure influencing those of his parents.

Children approach nature with curiosity and a willingness to explore.  

They seek out connection naturally. While walking in nature, try to tap into the natural child that lives inside of you. Allow yourself to be child-like - to play - to explore - to wander with no plan or agenda.

Be a loose and comfortable child in nature. Relax your adult concerns and reality and see Nature as a playground— a safe place— a place you belong and are welcomed.

Be a Nature Child.

You belong. Your play and celebration are appreciated and needed here. Everywhere.

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Animal Walk

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I am able to go much deeper in my nature connection practice the more liquid, limber, lithe, and flexible I make my movements.

I mimic the movements of wild animals.

I bend my knees and lower my center of gravity - my stance is as wide as my hips or slightly wider. I allow my arms to swing and my fingers to flop around as I walk. I loosen myself up and remain flexible. I want to abandon any rigidity I came to the threshold with. I soften, open, and listen through my body, through my feet.

I flow across the landscape.

If the terrain is unstable and the footing is not secure as on large, loose river cobble, I bend my knees more and prepare myself to use my hands if I need to. I move like a lizard over the shifting rocks.

A suggestion:

Stand solidly on the Earth. Connect through your feet.

Bend your knees.

Stand erect.

Bring your shoulders back and drop them down from your ears.

Open your heart.

Lift your chin.

Feel a small wire attaching at the base of your spine and then running up through your vertebral column up and out the top of your head. This imaginary wire is pulling you gently upwards.

Breathe deeply.

Grounded feet.

Bent knees.

Imaginary wire pulls you upward.

Stand like this and breathe slowly.

What comes to you?

Now begin to move slowly with your bent knees, erect spine and loose arms and hands. Walk slowly and mindfully. There is no rush. You are softening and moving as an animal does through nature.

Become Animal.

Saying Hello to Everything

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Lately I've been reading and listening to Martin Prechtel, a powerful yellow-haired man who lives and teaches at his school, Bolad's Kitchen, down in New Mexico.

I have some podcasts I've been enjoying. Here's one.

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  He has a new book I've been reading too: The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise. It's a synthesized version of what he has been writing and speaking about for many years. It has some practical instructions for recovering from the Industrial Growth Society with primary focus on moving Grief and Praise through the human heart. He encourages me to FEEL my grief and let it roll, "so that you look bad when you're finished" he says. After the grief there is more room for the praise. And that is the heart of LIFE. 

 

At one point in the podcast he says something like, "When I'm out in the world I am constantly greeting everything and every body. I am saying, 'hello, hello , hello' to everything."

 

This consistent acknowledging is something he attributes to his indigenousness. Maintaining connections — he actively interacts with the multi-dimensional world that he inhabits and directs his attention out into the world, allowing his nerves and senses to be open and available so that he might see and be seen.

 

Hello. Hello. Hello.

 

As you wander in nature, give this a shot. Try saying hello to everything. Look into each tree, rock, stream, blade of grass, bug, bird, scurrying rodent, speck of sand, polished river pebble and acknowledge it and greet it. Introduce yourself. I suppose you cannot really say hello to everything. You would have to probably choose one spot to sit and that would be your afternoon of nature reconnection. Might be valuable.

On your slow walk into nature I encourage you to try saying hello to as much as you have time and energy for. Greet the natural world with humility and reverence and with your beautiful self. See what greeting you receive in return.

Like any relationship, your's with nature begins with an acknowledgement and a greeting.

Hello. Hello. Hello.

In my experience out loud is best -

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Where am I DRAWN?

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After crossing a threshold and stepping into the sacred space of nature I ask myself a simple yet powerful question..

Where Am I DRAWN?

Where am I drawn in this landscape I am exploring? With all that I am sensing and feeling, what is it that pulls me? What is pleasing? What do I want to get closer too? In which direction am I drawn? I sense into the connections I feel. I trust them. I move further in. Deeper.

Where do I want to go sit and spend some time? Where in this natural place do I feel most comfortable, relaxed, and at peace?

After I ask myself questions like this and listen to my heart and my guts -  my solar plexus, I begin to move in a particular direction for a while, always listening to what feels right. Sometimes my feelings change,  so I change direction - I ask myself again, "where am I drawn?" and begin a new exploration.

I try to remain ready to shift course if my feelings change.

This is a wonderful initial activity once crossing over - follow your intuitive heart to the aspects of this place that pull at you.

You have complete permission to explore, wander and wonder.

We're getting to work now. Keep breathing.  Walk slowly and mindfully.

We are warming up our nature-connection muscles.

Enjoy that.

 

 

 

Then I go wandering off, following all of my favorite trails to all of the places I like.

I check how everything is doing.

I spend the day admiring things.

 

- From Byrd Baylor's I'm in Charge of Celebrations.

Earth Force Infusion

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Surfing in the ocean is sublime.

Countless books, magazine articles, blogs and films have been written and produced to try and illustrate the simple beauty of this activity.

 

Earlier this month I went surfing in Crescent City, California. My surfing experience that day was wholly embodied. The ocean's immense presence filled me up from root to crown. I could barely contain myself.

 

The swell was large and powerful, coming out of the Northwest - periodic mountains of water steadily moving through the lineup. As they approached, butterflies began careening around in my stomach - anticipating the wide thick band of power, closing in on me. When I was less experienced in the ocean, sights like this would ignite in me something akin to dread. They were large. I was not.

 

This day I felt excitement and anticipation as they rolled toward me. I clapped for them as they approached— I felt called to do it— applause for the set waves. CLAP CLAP CLAP— arms flapping like a Pelican, water flying from my hands.  The big ones. I clapped and threw water in the air -greeting and honoring these immense gifts of surf at the end of their long voyage, having travelled hundreds of miles across the sea, born of hurricane-force winds in the Gulf of Alaska. "NALU! NALU!"

 

And as they slid under me, or as I paddled furiously to catch one of them I felt their power surge into and through me— into my arms and back as I efforted on my board.

 

I receive an infusion of Earth Force, a collection of energy from hundreds, even thousands of miles of Ocean. It awakens and enlivens me.

 

But I don't have to be surfing waves to feel this. It is more obvious in such situations but I receive the Earth Force Infusion if I am simply aware and open in any natural setting. I just need to open my senses, pay attention and be mindful.

 

It's simple.

 

Why do I sometimes forget this?

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Crossing

All spiritual traditions draw wisdom from Nature because Nature is the original teacher. 

Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, John Muir, and other mystics all wandered in the wilderness to get closer to Spirit— to talk with God, whatever that was for them.

When I step into Nature I enter a holy house —like a zendo, mosque, church or temple. 

People sometimes do things when they enter such buildings: make the sign of the cross, remove shoes or bow. 

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To acknowledge my entrance into Nature I do something I learned from a powerful teacher, Steven K Harper. I encourage you to try this the next time you find yourself at the threshold of the Wild World. 

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I stop at the threshold and stand solidly on the Earth. 

I breathe deeply and slowly. 

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I bring awareness to my feet. I imagine roots growing out of them into the ground. I bend my knees slightly and feel the Earth below.

I breathe. 

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I bring my hands apart and then clap them once together. This initial clap announces my presence and my intention. The clap says, "Hello Nature. I am here—to connect—to listen—to be one with your sacred body."

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I bring my hands apart and clap them together again. This second clap reminds me, "I am here to connect. I intend to be mindfully present in this natural area. My senses are awake. I am open."

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Lastly, I bow— to the immensely powerful, life-giving, numinous, ever generous Earth. I humble myself before her. 

Then I step across the threshold, into Sacred Nature.  

I walk quietly. I move slowly...

 

I look around.

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Taking time to acknowledge the threshold with this simple ritual adds significance and potency to my time in Nature. When I "bow in" like this I pay attention differently.

Thresholds

Where the sidewalk ends... 

Where the sidewalk ends... 

I know where I'm going and have my pack put together. I am ready to cross the threshold and move into Nature in a mindful manner. 

Thresholds are:  

- Where one space meets another.

- Where one time meets another

- Points of crossing over.

- A place for endings and beginnings. 

They are significant.

Sacred.

Teeming with diversity and activity. 

Boundaries between natural communities are filled with life: river bank, lake shore, ocean beach, where forest meets meadow, the tree line. Different plant, animal, and insect communities meet and merge. These are good places for hunting, stalking, and observing. 

There are human made boundaries - where the sidewalk ends... and the wild Earth begins. When going to nature I always cross this civilized/wild threshold. I move from my house to my car to the parking-lot, walk across concrete, blacktop and pavement until...

I am standing at the brink of nature -  at the edge, about to cross over... looking in. 

These portals present me with an opportunity for awareness - for paying attention and noticing not only what is outside of me, but how I am feeling on the inside. It is a time and place for me to re-set and be mindful. I take a deep, slow breath... 

"I am leaving my car, my cell phone, my schedule and my to-do list behind and embarking on a sensual, felt journey into Nature."

The boundary between the developed world and the natural world is worth noticing. What is the relationship between these worlds? How is one effecting the other? How does one support the other? How does one learn from the other? How these two space/times relate to each other is increasingly important on our rapidly changing planet.

As I approach the civilized/wild threshold I slow down, stop, and look around. What do I notice? How do I feel? What are the qualities, characteristics, and spirit of this world I am about to enter?

I pay attention. 

Facing the Redwood Curtain

Facing the Redwood Curtain

Sustenance

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The clothing I wear and the gear I choose to put in my pack are important. No cotton, a sit pad, some rain gear, extra layers for staying warm while sitting still, a journal and a pen to write with. Excellent. 

I also bring fuel for myself in liquid and solid form. Sustenance. 

Fluids

In Winter I pack my thermos filled with sweet, spicy tea. It is worth a little extra weight to bring the magical container that is the thermos. Sitting on my sit pad in the cold, drippy forest sipping some hot tea is a sensual experience I cherish. 

In most other seasons I bring a quart water bottle which is usually enough for a half-day outing. If I am going for the entire day I bring at least two quarts or one quart and water purification technology. It is important to stay hydrated out there. Another strategy is to pre-hydrate. Put an extra water bottle in the car and drink it on the way to the park. Start your adventure well hydrated. 

Food

I take enough to sustain me for the time I will be in nature but not so much that I become distracted. The consumer society and accompanying behaviors are significant obstacles to connecting with Nature and many of us are too consumed with consuming to slow down enough to take a mindful walk in Nature. Everything I put in my pack should serve me in connecting and not distract me from that project.

I go to nature to feast on the sense-based deliciousness of being enveloped by Nature, not to eat mass quantities of chips, taquitos, and soda.

That said, I do pack more calories in Winter than in warmer seasons. Having enough calories on-board helps me maintain a safe body temperature. 

Here is a short list of snacks I sometimes toss in my pack. 

- almonds

- chocolate (many calories for not much weight)

- crackers or salty corn chips

- cheese

- jerky

- apples

- medjool dates (nature's most easily assimilated sugar)

- Granola bars

- simple sandwich

The food stuffs in my pack, like my sit pad, journal, and balaclava, are tools that assist me in my Return To Earth. 

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Sardine-Salad Burrito with raisins, kale, and avocado - YUM! 

Sardine-Salad Burrito with raisins, kale, and avocado - YUM! 

Death Cloth

 

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Cotton, aka "Death Cloth" is not something you want to wear outside in winter or any season with the exception of hottest Summer. Other fabrics are safer like wool or synthetic.

Cotton is dangerous because of its hydro-philic (water loving) nature.

Wet cotton stays wet and dries slowly. If you have wet cotton on your skin and it is cold outside, you will lose heat through evaporation and in winter this can be dangerous.

So leave the cotton at home and wear wool or synthetics out there. 

If you want to save some money on some warm layers I highly recommend thrift stores - wool pants and thin wool sweaters are treasures to be hunted for. If you cannot find the wool (first choice) you will definitely be able to locate some polyester. Thrift stores are shrines to polyester. 

Dressing Warmly

I encourage people to approach nature in a slow and mindful way.

Returning To Earth experiences and activities are not overly physical. Many of them are observation-based and call for extended periods of time sitting in a solo spot, watching both what is happening outside and within oneself.

If I do not wear enough warm clothing at certain times of year (Fall, Winter, Spring) I can get too cold to focus on the work of observing and connecting with nature since too much of my vital energy and focus is taken up with staying warm, or trying to get warm...

So... I  head out the door with more clothing than I think I need so I can remain comfortable even when I am sitting still for extended periods of time. 

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Layering

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When I dress in layers it is easy for me to regulate my temperature and stay safe, warm and dry. A simple layering system:

For Torso:

- T-shirt  (wool or synthetic)

- light windbreaker with hood

- insulative layer with hood

- Rain jacket With hood

For Legs: 

- long underwear

- fleece or wool pants

- Rain Pants

Extremities:

Warm hat

Balaclava

Gloves

Wool Socks

If it's colder - add more thin wool/synth layers and if warmer, take some away. 

The goal with dressing in layers is to stay warm and dry. If you begin to warm up, you should peel off some layers until you are not hot any more. 

You definitely want to avoid sweating. Do not sweat.

If you feel yourself getting too hot, stop and peel a layer. Don't sweat. If you get sweaty and wet, you will have a much harder time maintaining a safe body temperature.

Stay comfortable. Comfort is the goal.