What does it mean to be in nature?
We often say, in this highly technical and mechanical world, "I need to spend time in nature." So we think of trees, of hilltops, of mountains, rivers and streams. And when faced with cars, highways, buses, coffeeshops on every corner, concrete, glass and rubbish littering the streets we do not see that as nature. We feel like we are in unnatural territory - this is not our land.
And for many who live an urban life - this "lack" of nature can become something to tolerate, to put up with, and it is managed by discovering pockets of nature in parks, pedestrian only zones and flower shops, or trips out of the city.
What if nature is all around us always, no matter what environment we are in?
Years ago I was walking in the desert in California with a teacher of mine - Byron Katie (www.thework.com). A woman on the walk had come across an empty coke can. This woman was outraged. She picked it up to show us all. She raged. How could anyone leave this coke can in the desert, to leave their trash and pollution here and ruin the natural beauty. And Katie said. What is not natural about that coke can? It comes from the earth, it's a product of human activity, and we are part of that movement of nature. There is nothing on earth that is not part of nature. Nature is everything. Katie just could not see any separation. The invitation she gave was for us to question where the mind sees something as not natural and ask "Is it true". I see it The Work as yoga for the mind!
For when we think like that, when we think that the coke can, the concrete building, the car or bus driving by us is not nature, we forget our own nature. We divorce ourselves from the fact that as living breathing human beings our very nature goes with us wherever we go. So whether we are in an busy city street with bustling people and traffic streaming by us, or whether we are standing by the ocean watching the sun go down, we are always in our own body. We are always in nature. We are nature.
Francisco Kaiut (founder of the Kaiut Method also wrote a blog on this topic) he says
"We carry nature inside of us wherever we go. We are nature. It’s just a matter of seeing, understanding, and embracing this new reality, this new nature, that allows us to truly absorb the flow - the flow of life in and around us, the flow of nature in and around us. Always. Wherever we are. Not seeing a big city as a source of separation but instead as a union. Not seeing the woods as a source of separation but also a source of union. And seeing ourselves as our main source of nature, accepting whatever environment we are in as a powerful healing tool."
To absorb the flow, to absorb and abide in the nature of our own body. To be the vessel for all manner of experiences, emotions, thoughts and reactions. That's true nature. And through our yoga practice we can see our nature, that we are as soft, as beautiful, as natural as any landscape or wilderness site. And as constructed, fast and solid as any city scape.
Kaiut Yoga connects us back to our own nature. It becomes a living breathing inquiry into the very nature of being alive. I have learnt to be in postures, that appear to be quite difficult, while relaxing my nervous system, I am basically re-setting the connection to nature and I can trust it again. Just as I can stand on a crowded train - in a busy city, which might appear to be quite difficult and relax my nervous system.
When I move my hips whether by sitting cross legged, or resting your legs up the wall, or any other of the poses the practice can gives me.. each time I am in a new environment, each one as natural as the last. Even though my hips feel different depending on any number of factors, some days they feel hard, difficult and tense. And somedays flowing, soft and open. But each experience of my hips is nature. Each posture as natural as breathing.
Our environment is nature. And nature grows and heals and strives and changes, so too do our bodies. We just need to awaken to all of nature, no matter what the environment. No matter what the state (inner or outer) and see the beauty that is there to be discovered in nature.