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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

On my last day of birding in the Yemen...


The Yemen


I had the most amazing experience I have ever had the pleasure to witness from a bird of prey. As my guide Yousf and I were leaving a wadi we were presented a Long-legged Buzzard in summer plumage just 75 meters away. This bird put on one fantastic display, he swooped, grabbed branches, dived, spun round, flipped over swooped and dived again and again for a whole 10 minutes or more.


Throughout this time you could hear me saying with excitement, WOW, this is out of this world. I have never seen anything like this in my life. Yousf said to me "that was meant for us" and my reply to Yousf was “you better believe it; this wonderful bird was without doubt sent by the creator”. If you would like to find out more go to the link below or even better why not take a trip to the Yemen, you will find Yousf's details on the link if you need a guide.


http://birding-the-yemen.blogspot.com/

Friday, 16 January 2009

Hummingbird Meditation

I write this as if I was actually doing the meditation with a group. Take some deep and slow breaths and gently close your eyes, become aware of your breathing, listen to your heart beating, spend a few minutes connecting with your inner self see a light inside you feel its warmth feel how safe it makes you feel.


Now, I would like you to see yourself entering into a forest along a path, at first you see that there are no animals, birds or other creatures of the forest. Stop for a moment, look around, feel the gentle breeze on your face and hair, relax, enjoy this moment in time, feel the tranquillity that is within the forest.

Begin your journey again along the path moving deeper into the forest looking around you become aware of shafts of light breaking through the canopy and within these beams of light dance a multitude of butterflies. Close by there is a deer, a badger and a stunning vixen, they all take a moment to stop and gaze upon you, inquisitive song birds fly closer to you, the animals are more willing to approach you as you relax more and opening your heart to your surroundings.


You break into a clearing were you can see everyone present enter into the clearing at the same time as you, in the middle between you all lays a large and very still pond. You approach it walking slowing up to the waters edge you’re feet are bare, your stand on the waters edge with your toes in the water. I want you to reach out now and hold the hand of your brother or sister standing next to you.


As you look out over the pond a Hummingbird appears, hovering in the middle and at eye level it is facing you and as you look at it you become aware of its many colours. First there is Sapphire - Blue this represents Healing and Communication, then there is Emerald - Green representing Emotions, next Amber - Orange this is Surrender, followed by Ruby - Red representing Power or Self Empowerment, next you see Rose Quartz - Pink this is Unconditional Love and then you become aware of Jet - Black which represents the Shadow Self and finely your eyes set upon Diamond - White which represents the Christ Light.


As you look at these many faceted colours glistening on the Hummingbird it approaches you until is but a few feet from your face and the colours glisten even more now, look at them see yourself in all these colours, remembering that there is no right or wrong there just is, each colour reflects back to you who you truly are, spend some time with the colours of the Hummingbird see yourself in these colours see your light within, share your feelings and thoughts with the Hummingbird, hear what it has to say to you as it reflects the all things back to you.


As the Hummingbird returns to the centre of the pond it hovers for a brief moment still looking at you, it dives into the water, concentric rings are sent out carrying aspects of who you are from the colours and as they reach the bank the water laps over your feet washing away the aspects you wish to change and bringing the things you desire to be letting you see who you truly are and as you surrender to this experience you begin to heal and learn to communicate with your inner and outer self, you feel safe being with your most deepest and inner emotions, this allows you to empower yourself giving you the feeling of unconditional love, now you see that the shadow self and the gift it brings you, you can see the beauty in ugly, finely you discover that all the colours are contained within the white and you experience the essence of your truth of who you are.


Stay with this experience for a while if you wish you can send back to the centre of the pond on the returning concentric the aspects of yourself that you no longer wish to hold onto you become cleanse by the water and the very essence that is you.


Now slowly let go of each others hands and before you return along your path take a moment to say just a few words to the Hummingbird hovering in the middle of the pond, now return down the path from which you came take time to look around you, can you see anything different about the forest, about the animals the birds and even about you? As you leave the forest, again if you wish to, thank all that is for this experience and when you are ready I would like you to open your eyes.


After this as a group we process any aspects of the meditation that people wish to share.


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Nature Awareness and the Sacred Questions?

Aboriginal cultures have used Nature-Awareness since time immemorial. However, recently it’s become popular with Bushcraft schools throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. Two distinct forms have emerged within the UK, the first is commonly referred to as ‘what’s on the box is what you get’, e.g. someone wishing to make a fire by rubbing sticks together (known as fire by friction) must first identify and select the appropriate wood, shape it and employ the correct physical technique to obtain fire. Based purely on factual information it is constant throughout and does not require someone to change their internal-landscape; this ‘factual information’ is regurgitated each time someone wishes to make a fire.


The second is a spiritual-based attitude, were the belief is there’s more to life than just the physical, staying with the ‘box-analogy’. I believe if you climb the inside of the box, open the lid and look around, there is much more to see, learn and experience, about the world around you. It is known that Native Americans (The 1st Nation) and other 1st nation primary cultures use an awareness which believes that were not separate from, but an integral part of nature. The American 1st nation calls this ‘the spirit that moves through all things’, suggesting a ‘Power Greater than ourselves or a Higher Power’.


Aboriginal elders teachings are integrated providing a doorway to spirit, for example Brown (2004) once asked Grandfather (his mentor Stalking Wolf, a Lipan Apache) why was it he always knew where the owls were? Grandfather replied “go ask the mice” this statement demands we listen and pay attention to what the concentric-rings of nature teaches us. According to Sahtouris (1992) “…the traditional ways of knowing is not a science that stands apart from nature to look at it objectively; it does not eliminate the scared, but integrates it” (p. 4), thus fostering a dialogue between humans and nature.


If we believe we are not separate from nature, we are invited to see the world differently, by digesting our thoughts, feelings and emotions; we change our internal-landscape. Brown, (2004) invites us to ask the “Sacred Questions [1] what has happened here (the physical), [2] what is this telling me (the energetic), [3] what does this mean (the spiritual)”. Interestingly grounded-theory asks the same questions where the data is also digested and not regurgitated. Regarding these questions, instead of knowing what wood is best for making fire by friction (physical); we internally explore our relationship (energetic) with the trees and when we truly connect with our ‘Heart’ we ‘Meet our Tree’, we discover (spiritual) the answers to our questions like [1] how do I feel (physical), [2] what’s this wood teaching me about myself and my environment (energetically), and [3] what does this mean to me ‘in my recovery’ (spiritual).


When a spiritual-connection takes place, something has changed, is changing. Spirituality has been described as “the divine essence of an individual” (Carroll, 1997, p. 29). Nature- Awareness takes us on a journey of self-exploration in nature which asks for internal-changes, through the process of “Learning with the Heart” (Cornell, 1989). I believe this gives us a greater understanding of, our relationship with self, our fellow human-beings and ultimately, with a ‘Higher Power’. Emoto (2004) believes that when our hearts are truly-open to other possibilities we begin noticing small changes which can lead us to “enormous discoveries” (p. xx) by connecting with an ‘Open Heart’ and exploring our feelings, thoughts and emotions we learn to deal with ourselves honourably and respectfully. Linden et al. (2002) states “If we do not consider ourselves connected with nature we are in a state of disconnection… this is what shattered lives are about” (p. 18).


Nature-Awareness can be taken into woodlands, parks or gardens, while the principle of 'nature sets the boundaries' still applies, participants learn that they can have an active and productive roll in their own self-development. However, our youth can (Brown, 1983; & Russell et al. 2000) become subdued, due to the pressures of our society, parents, education and the state, from an early age they are under immense pressure to live a certain way i.e. celebrity status, like footballers/models. They believe they have no real alternatives in life, their excitement and sense of adventure is all but gone, causing them to seek adventure elsewhere (rarely following their hearts), which might be expressed on our streets, through anti-social behaviour, supported by drugs and alcohol abuse (binge drinking) or crime.


Brown (1983) found through his work that to “…dull the pain or boredom, many seek the oblivion of alcohol, the false escape of drugs, the adventure of vandalism, and sometimes the freedom of suicide” (p. 7). Brown (1983) believes that “awareness goes beyond the physical... awareness is the doorway to spirit… the challenge is to step through the doorway” (p. 10).


Indeed Linden et al. (2002) informs us of the ‘Great Prophets’ who in NATURE found “Spiritual renewal… Jesus in the desert, Moses up on the mountain, the Buddha in the forest" (p. 22) or an ‘Addict Meeting a Tree’, nature can and does touch us on a very profound and deep level.


Nature-Awareness invites the addict and indeed others to step through that door, raising our level of awareness, becoming more self-empowered, and seeing things in life we perhaps previously ignored or we were just simply unaware of. According to the “Biophilia Hypothesis” (Bird, 2007, p. 4) in which humans seem to have an innate affiliation (humans are genetically pre-disposed) towards our natural-environment, I believe this refers to the physical. Nature-Awareness however, is much more than the physical it’s an integration of the whole.

A NEW AND CONTROVERSIAL CONCEPT?

Nature Therapy within the UK appears to be on the increase. I personally have delivered a form of 'Nature Therapy' over the last three years now, which is known as ‘Nature Awareness’ delivering it to a wide range of individuals who present behaviours from ADHD to Addictions.

Recently I watched a news item which featured (according to the news broadcaster) a new and controversial concept, namely some schools are taking young children into nature and teaching them within a natural environment. I was shocked to hear that this would even be considered controversial let alone new.


On the time-line, have our ancestors not been doing just that, have we not been learning from nature as children? Could it be that the modern world is controversial as it has separated our children of today from learning from the same experiences we encountered as children by placing restrictions on them thereby confining them to a more urban environment?