I've been feeling the need to immerse myself in nature again recently, but with the prospect of boots caked in sticky mud, lake-sized puddles and icy winds, my seasonal hibernating instincts postponed my soul's need for the wild.
However, Mother Nature gave me an unexpected invitation yesterday, which has recharged and gently warmed me. I opened the front door to head to the shop for some groceries, properly bundled up in scarf, hat and big red coat, when to my surprise, instead of the icy chill of winter, a warm greenish smell of life greeted my nostrils! So shopping trip postponed, I headed straight to my favourite "rough path" 5 minutes' walk away. On the way there, I was taken by the soft, vivid green of the grass in the centre of the dual carriageway. What a change from my last walk down this way, a couple of weeks ago, when the grass's green was neither vivid, nor lush!
But there was an even greater surprise when I reached the path itself - tiny new leaves starting to unfurl and open, and blossom (yes, actual BLOSSOM!) on one of the first bushes (I think it's a Hawthorn). The air was fresh rather than icy, and all of nature seemed to be relaxing a little now the harsh winds and freezing temperatures had mellowed. The sun was still a little low in the sky, but sharing some watery warmth, and the shadows he cast were slightly less angular and long.
It feels like we've entered the next stage of winter, which is not quite spring, but starting to prepare for it - the signs of new life have begun to appear, already. New green-barked twiggy saplings seem to have sprung up overnight, with tiny budlets of leaves - the green tinge (maybe lichen or moss?) like a photosynthesizing film, gives the impression of primordial life; as though drawing nutrition from the sun through the tree's skin, until its leaves are mature enough to drink in enough light to nourish the tree's whole body. The moss, whilst previously mostly thick and velvety, protecting against the harsh cold of winter, has, in patches, transformed into miniature fern-like fronds, with pale flower-like tips. It seems to be reaching, stretching out, and ready to blossom, itself. The birds have once again taken up their more elaborate songs - communicating, expressing and opening out and connecting with each other and the world, through their mannered, coded, complex musical language. I so wish I could understand them - every now and then, I fancy I get a glimpse of shades of meaning; like a shadow flitting at the corner of my eye, when I turn to see properly, it's disappeared.
It feels good to be home here again, and to be able to sigh softly and gently open to my surroundings a little, along with my forest brothers and sisters.
That morning, whilst meditating, I had noticed how difficult I was finding it to relax and open to the experience. I have a tendency to throw myself into a Yang "doing" state, which can sometimes make those more Yin times of receiving, resting, self-reflection and self-nurturing, challenging. Today, I tried tracing this Yang tendency (or imbalance) back through my life, to see whether it was inherently part of my nature, or whether it was a learned/adopted habit. Interestingly, I find that I've always been quite Yang, but that this used to be more balanced and supported by Yin. I didn't always have difficulty in receiving and opening up, at the same time. My predicament yesterday morning was (I think) down to a lack of Yin within me to support and nourish the Yang and allow me to take in what I was in need of - rather than being a problem of too much Yang.
Being back in nature though, on my impromptu walk I was again able to receive, and this nourished me on all levels. I feel like going back to my nature home (wherever the location in physical terms) nourishes me and gives me Yin - and I find it easier to drink it in and accept that nourishment, when it comes directly from being immersed in nature. So it makes sense that this morning when I woke up, I was able to meditate deeply, and my practice, whilst challenging, brought me insights and some positive resolution. So I've learned that building in more nature-time for myself is not only wonderful, inspiring and beneficial for me on a soul level, it's crucial for my spiritual practice and for the personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance which I'm on, right now. It sounds pretty obvious when I describe it, and yet it was a "Eureka" moment! I've been having a few of these recently, and again, for most of them, after being received and absorbed, I've had the thought of "Well duh! Didn't I know this already?". But I think there are different levels and depths/qualities of knowing. I think I'm gaining bone-deep realisation right now, rather than just intellectual or emotional insight.
I send a great big thank you out to the Universe, to my neighbours, friends, brothers and sisters of all species, planes of existence, times and locations - we are all one, we are all connected, and we all help each other in ways we can't ever fully imagine.
Bright blessings to us all!