Just over a week ago the years first new years buds poked their way out on the local ornamental cherry trees. This along with a few other flowers popping up has shown us that spring has just begun it's cycle of growth. Spring has always been one of my favorite times of the year as I really enjoy seeing new life pushing up towards the sky. It's like nature is waking from a deep sleep and along with this growth comes warmer days and brighter skies. It feels like endless new possibilities are pouring out into the world like an overflowing cup.
This symphony of natures energy in bloom can be quite cathartic in its affect. It ultimately can be downright transcendent when the right conditions are met. Nature is like that, it doesn't so much offer us engagement as much as it simply is engaging if we pay attention to it. I was given the gift of growing up in rural and often quite isolated areas so nature was not something I had to make effort to visit, I was surrounded by it. That is not the case for several generations of people in the western world and I think this has caused many of our societies health challenges as well as numerous other problems.
It really is not a surprise then that getting out into nature has many positive qualities. However it often needs to be rekindled in the minds of many so as not to be forgotten in the hustle, bustle and mind numbing advertisements of city life. Of course simply being in nature isn't quite enough you still have to be mindful enough to let nature soak into you.
Leaving the city and starting a self-sustaining farm may to far from most peoples concept of possibility but such dramatic life changes are not required to initiated a shift towards a better relationship with the source of all life on this planet. Like all things it's much more important to simply be aware. Flowers may be beautiful but they have very limited time to be in bloom and they cannot alter their process to suite us so we must be mindful enough to notice them.
Most cities have parks throughout their different neighborhoods and many are now developing community gardens so there is always some greenery around. I highly encourage everyone to grow a small garden if they can. If you ever doubt the power of growing a garden go talk with someone who has grown a garden for many years. They will tell you that the garden cultivates them as much as they grow it.
Another obvious and important method that most people can access nature by is to take a day to hike into some mountains or along a seaside. These require a bit of planning but are very rewarding as they engage one in nature much more fully than a city park ever could. They also offer some great physical exercise especially if they are on a rugged trail.
Of course most peoples lives are already full to the brim with the various things they already do. It can be very difficult to convince people to do virtually anything new, even if it's obvious that it will dramatically improve their lives. However I would think that if your reading this blog then it's likely that you at least are open to the idea of change for the sake of bettering of your self.
Here is a very simple and profound thing you can do anyday and everyday to grow towards that goal, shift your awareness. Right now nature is pushing forward life's splendor as intensely as it can, so notice it. Take a moment to stop and really look at the patterns of growth in a tree's new buds, get down low and really look at the designs of flowers, see the richness and beauty of their colors and patterns. Stop and really listen to the birds, hear the rhythm and flow of their songs merging with the flow of the wind. Nature is always there sharing it's quite secrets, always.
This applies to gardening and hiking as well as daily life. Stopping to smell the roses so to speak really does change ones perspective. In those moments of deeply engaging with the sight of a flower or feeling of a breeze, or the sound of robins chatting about the day is truly how you can allow yourself to be more fully in the present moment.
It's said that an artist is someone who can bring out the sublime from the ordinary. I say it is the artist who can see the sublimity in the ordinary world. This way of thinking is really a way to notice what's already right in front of us and so doesn't necessarily require any new purchases or scheduled time allotments. Spring is a time of very distinct growth and so a perfect time to plant the seed of mindful awareness in daily life.
Nature is right in front of us, so notice it, it's that simple.