11/29/2012 01:44 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2013

Let Nature Be Your Teacher

This past weekend my husband and I went up to the Adirondacks, and wow was it magical. The landscape was powerful, beautiful, and gentle all at once. I spent the days staring out a huge window overlooking snowy fir trees and the lake, still not frozen, undulating rhythmically beyond them. I took long morning walks on trails half-covered by snow and branches, smelling the pinecones, appreciating the green, stopping along the water, breathing the crisp air, and looking up into that clear, open sky.

To be surrounded by such noble largesse at all times, in yoga, sitting, and writing practices even, was inordinately soothing. Over and over, I was reassured by the voluminous presence of those ancient trees of just how small my hang-ups and me actually are.

An old literature mentor used to advise me that when things got really rough to simply look out the window at the wind rustling through the branches of a tree. She felt that this elemental vision was enough to bring anyone back to their roots or, more succinctly, to the root of all living things -- namely movement, energy, and pulse.

That tree, those branches, that wind, those leaves are never in great debate over better or worse, or in anguish over their incessant disruption. No, that tree, those branches, that wind, those leaves are just that, exactly who and what they are meant to be. They are simply their divine, revelatory, real, and unfussy selves.

Whether you are struck by a lone shoot pushing through the cracks in city pavement, the runt tree on your block, the intermittent flow of sweet rain, the seeming forest of the park, the night or early-morning sky, or the fallen leaves, please let nature be your teacher and think deliberately on these things:

  • Let nature be a part of your every day.
  • Let nature fill you with joy and overwhelming peace.
  • Let nature mirror your own elemental and affectionate nature.
  • Let nature remind you to accept your own organic shape.
  • Let nature lead you into an authentic expression of you.
  • Let nature always ground you.

Though my husband and I had to say goodbye to all that rugged upstate beauty, I have a new little pinecone sitting on my altar. It harkens from one of those early mornings hikes, and is here as talisman and anchor to remind me, and hopefully now you, of all these substantial and essential things.

In natural sweetness,


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