Posts Tagged "nature"

The Material and the Sacred

Posted on Apr 23, 2016 | 0 comments

The Material and the Sacred

Environmentalists should embrace materialism. Bet you didn’t expect me to make that claim, but I mean it. Materialism needs to be appreciated, just in a radically different way. Materialism in the sense of the desire to accumulative material goods, leading to overconsumption, is seen as one of the evils of capitalism, with spirituality sometimes presented as the antidote. There is much wisdom in teachings on non-attachment and the like, however there is a thread to both religious and new age spirituality which is easy to confuse. In the rejection of the pursuit of ‘material wealth’ we can come to associate the material, matter, with the mundane, or more harshly, the profane. I cringe when I hear the ‘up and away’ type language that can be associated with spirituality. Think of discussion about ‘transcending’ or ‘raising our vibration’ or the spirit realm (as if spirit were something separate to the realm of matter) or ‘higher’ states of consciousness or emphasising parts of the self that are perceived as not the body (mind, spirit, consciousness)… What are we trying to escape from here? Is high better than low? Is earth somehow less sacred than heaven? The desacralising of the natural world is one driver behind our environmental destruction. If nature is filled with non-sentient, non-sacred creatures and substances, then why should we care to respect and protect it? When I talk about these nature retreats that I do, it is not about transcending at all, it is about going deeper and deeper into the here and now, discovering capacities our culture has forgotten about and communing with the nature right in front of us as access to the unifying field underlying all things, not a god far away up in heaven. The Slow Movement has faced criticism as a being a luxury for the rich. Which I guess when Slow Food gets construed as being just about gourmet food I can see the point, but quite often I think that critical sentiment is coming from the belief in the need to be productive as possible. And if you are not, then you are lazy and indulgent. I think Slow’s appreciation of quality, sensory pleasures is actually quite beautiful. It makes gratitude for the gifts of nature all the more possible. One of the insights I had during my 28 day solo retreat was that things become sacred when you treat them as such. The sense was very similar to taking a conscious choice to change the tone of a relationship. I think one of the ways that nature can be such an incredible teacher is because nature makes it easy to see the sacred in the here. I wonder what would happen if we chose to see the sacred in the substance of everyday...

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Going Deeper

Posted on Mar 15, 2015 | 0 comments

Going Deeper

Of all the things I passionately believe in, the power of deep experience is right up there. In fact, a large part of my commitment to Slow comes from an appreciation of the relationship between Slow and depth. One of the great tragedies of our Fast society is that we only skim the surface of life’s experiences and furthermore become unaware of this shallowness. With our senses so thoroughly bombarded and hence numbed simply as a coping mechanism, our perception of life becomes grossified. By slowing down and bringing more of our attention into the present we sink deeper into each moment. The things we discover can change our lives forever. I never would have had an appreciation for Slow if it was not for doing my first Way of Nature Sacred Passage. I spent a week in solitude and after two days of mostly sleeping, settling in and relaxing a whole new way of being with the world opened up in ways I could never have imagined. The incredible sense of connectedness was like a caress for the soul and the reciprocity with the beings around me in acknowledgement of this changed, deeper relationship with nature changed the way I see the world forever. I have found this and other deep experiences I have embarked on since then much like finding a great radio station and adding it to your favourites: you might not always be tuned in but you can find it again, the path has been illuminated, and simply just knowing it is there waiting for you is the source of much ease. Deep experience help you to see what is possible, inspiring and guiding everyday practice. So if you have started or thought about any kind of practice, such as meditation, to assist you to slow down, I encourage you to find the space and courage to let yourself go deeper. In a way, it is a matter of courage. Deep experience by its very nature requires you to go beyond comfort zone and learn about surrender, trust and letting go. These in themselves are incredible valuable lessons. Sometimes I’d claim my strategy with The Slow Project is to gently introduce people to Slow principles, thereby allowing them to come to the conclusion that deep experience is something they are ready for. But then other times, such as now, I just get too excited and decide that I’m going to try to convince you straight out. I practice what I preach, and I am heading off in a few week to spend 5 weeks in Nepal learning Thai massage and doing more meditation and qi gong on a pilgrimage. Before I go I am hoping to get enough people for two nature programs I am running in May and June. The May 23 event is a taster 1-day retreat and the June Nature Quest gives you a proper deep dive exploring and strengthening your connection with nature over 5 days including 2 days in solitude.  So have I convinced you? Are you keen? Please get in touch, even if it is to ask some questions over a coffee. Sign up for post updates:...

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Nature Quest in the Midwest

Posted on Mar 7, 2015 | 0 comments

Nature Quest in the Midwest

Craving time out from the craziness of modern life and ready to push your boundaries to explore what meaningful relationship with nature might be like? Technology-driven, adrenaline-fueled, time-compressed modern society creates separation from our bodies and from nature – the very essence of what it is to be human. In the vast skies of the midwest we will retreat and rediscover. What’s involved? The centrepiece of this program is 2 nights, 3 days spent in solitude in wild nature. Prior to this ‘AllOne’ time, we will learn simple and effective practices to allow us to become present and relaxed, merging with the natural energies and rhythms of nature. These teachings are based on the 12 Guiding Principles of the Way of Nature organisation. To keep costs low we will share responsibility for meals during the group time. Fasting is recommended for the AllOne time, although is not mandatory. Bring any snacks you might want for that time. Who’s it for?  This Nature Quest is suited to those who: Are looking to move beyond simple appreciation of nature and develop their skills in connecting with inner and outer nature May have tried some meditation but looking to connect that with your love of nature Yearn for space to reflect and rest in stillness May not have spent much time alone but looking to expand their boundaries with the support of nature Cost: $450 or $400 if booked prior to March 29  ...

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