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Practicing Pleasure: Coming Into Relationship with an Alive World

Spring is in her full glory.

Last month we passed the midway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Here in Marin, CA the earth is quite literally bursting with the pleasure of being alive. The hills vibrate with life force, dancing with the yellows, oranges, purples and whites of sweet peas and poppies, lupine, shooting stars, forget-me-nots, columbine, buttercups and more. The air is thick with birdsong, the sound of bees, and the scent of flowers.

I can’t get enough. It’s swoony, this time of year. The earth, it seems is constantly enticing me back into the deep pleasure of being alive, in a human body within a beautiful and sensual world.

Coming into presence with the natural world brings me back to my senses. It brings me back into my body and plugs me into the abundant life force of the earth.

When I feel connected to myself and to the earth I have access to a sense of well being and a knowing that runs deeper than the frantic pace and anxieties of daily life. My soul is comforted. I know where I stand. Useful, in today’s turbulent times.

Science supports what our nervous systems and spirits already understand. Connecting with nature supports our souls, our bodies, our minds and our spirits. It connects us with the larger body of life that contains us. Research has shown that after about 20 minutes in nature the following things occur (and this is just a short list of all the good stuff that happens):

  • Blood pressure goes down
  • Heart rate goes down
  • Muscle tension is reduced
  • Indicators of anxiety and depression go down
  • Cortisol levels in the blood decrease
  • Immune functioning increases
  • Sertonin uptake in the brain increases
  • Compassion, creativity and concentration increase
  • and the list goes on….(for a full list of all the good things that happen, join my mailing list, I’ll send it to you!)

It is not difficult to connect with nature, no matter where you are. All you need is a few minutes, the sky, or a patch of ground.

A simple practice to carry into your day, your week….

….open the door and bring yourself to a tree, a flower.

Take a moment with it. Take lots of moments. Listen to the song of the bees. Follow a cloud across the sky. Get close to a spider web. Wiggle your toes in grass, or dirt. Feel the sun on your back.

Breathe as you do this. Notice what happens inside of you. Maybe a relaxation, a softening, a dance, a song, something else…

Go back and forth between outer nature and your inner nature as you breathe. Do this for a minute or two, tracking the conversation between outer experience and inner experience. Feel how they interact, how they dance within your body. When it feels complete, offer thanks whatever has kept you company.  Repeat as needed.

Weave yourself more deeply into the web of life — one breath at at time.