I have just spent the past weekend at the beautiful Rocklyn Yoga Ashram in central Victoria, Australia, leading my first Radical Self Love Retreat.
It was a wonderful experience with some beautiful people who came along, very ready for inner alchemy and self-transformation.
I found myself reflecting on the influence of a natural environment, like the Australian bush setting of this ashram, on helping to understand the workings of the mind. And it is so very obvious when you just spend time immersed in it. It was raining quite a bit over this weekend, given it is coming into winter time in the Southern Hemisphere, so we were blessed with misty (sometimes heavy) rain and crisp sharp air.
The thing is: nature just IS.
The trees just are: they stand there, they are beautiful and majestic. The grass grows without any encouragement. The wallabies and kangaroos gaze on silently and take up the statue position when you approach. The rain just IS. It’s nature is wetness. It falls from the sky. The fire in the hearth also is: it is alive and dances, changing every moment. It’s nature is heat.
And then you have the human mind. The human mind’s nature in its raw and undeveloped form is that it is agitated and constantly commentating on our experience, just like a commentator at the horse races, or at the football game. It is constantly reacting to our experience: judging, criticising, fault-finding, analysing and trying to understand.
The weather reactionary mind says: Ooooooh it’s cold!!!! I don’t like the cold. Brrrrrr. Ooooohhhh, look, it’s raining again. I don’t like the rain. It’s miserable and wet. Yuck.
The mind in meditation says: Ooooooh, this is BOR-ing, how long is there to go? When can I go and do something FUN like eat some cake or pat the kangaroo?
The fearful mind locked in limiting beliefs says: Oooooh, I do really want to start my own business and be free and travel the world and just have fun for the rest of my life, but maybe that’s not possible? What will people think of me? Running your own business must be so hard. Oooh there are just so many problems that could arise. Let’s see, what’s the first problem?
The stuck in the past mind says: Oooh, if only I had done such-and-such, or made such-and-such a decision at such-and-such a time, things would be different now and I would be so much happier, richer and generally more fabulous.
And then we look back out the window into the trees. We see the intense grey green colour of the leaves in the rain. We notice the beauty of the multi layered paper bark trees whose delicate bark flakes are like parchment. We see the intense concentration of the wallaby as he stands motionless in the rain, twitching just an ear here and there.
And we notice: there are no problems here. Everything is oddly perfect, and just as it is meant to be.
This is the reality of the non-mind space. Everything is actually fine. And then our minds come online again and start creating more problems to solve.
The benefit of doing a retreat in a pristine natural environment is that it becomes so easy to see how we create our own problems through our thinking patterns. And at the same time the untouched natural environment is a healing balm to our souls in a way that human built environments can never be.
PS: If you are interested in doing a nature retreat with me stay tuned as I am planning some one to two day silent retreats with yoga and meditation. Sign up to my mailing list to stay in touch.
IMAGE Courtesy of Dave from flickr.