12 of September…happy mindfulness day everyone! In a way, September is also the anniversary of Alice goes around, which started about a year ago indeed. During the same last twelve months, I started a journey through mindful living and mindful exploration of nature. I learnt a lot from it and I now start to see the subtle, yet incredibly deep changes it brought.
So, twelve twelve twelve. What better coincidence to talk about the 12 mindful lessons from nature I learnt during this past year?
1 • Gratitude is a choice
The most important one, really. Gratitude doesn’t just fall on your lap. You have to choose it, and practice it, and fail at it, and practice it again. Being grateful means to see the beauty of what you have, to count your blessings and realise that nature itself, together with your ability to experience it, is already enough to be grateful for your life.
And what I discovered is that to be grateful means to be present, which is the greatest feeling of belonging you can ever experience.
2 • Pain, failure and unpleasant things are like a volcano
Hang in there, because at some point you will understand why you are going through whatever it is that you are going through and that makes you suffer right now.
When volcanoes erupt, they destroy everything and life seems impossible to happen again. Yet, few things in nature are as nourishing as lava.
And always remember, every moment of pain can be turned into a moment of growth, thriving and learning if you want to.
3 • Every action has a reaction
There’s no such thing as inconsequential footprint. Look at climate change, it’s probably the best example. Every single action we do in our life, from breathing to buying, consuming, disposing, anything will have a consequence.
Between an action and a reaction there’s a space, and in that space we choose how to behave. There lays our freedom. I’d also add that before a whichever action (that probably is the reaction to another previous action) there’s a space where you can choose what action to do.
4 • Love is not a feeling
Love is a lesson, a lesson you need to choose to learn in order to learn it exactly. Love is something we need to learn how to give and take, how to manage and where to address.
Love is what makes things grow. And growth never happens by chance.
5 • There’s something so much greater than us
And I personally find it stunning. I feel honoured to be part of it. I’m honoured to be it too (indeed, us humans are nature too. We are not something a part from it!). And, eventually, I also find it relieving, as it cuts a lot of slack off me and all other humans on this Planet.
We are tiny, mini, teeny dots in comparison to a huge, possibly infinite eco-system. This doesn’t make us any less worthy, but it does give you an idea of how much we can actually matter.
Why should we waste our lives getting sick to death after an illusory success/glory/power then? Why taking ourselves so seriously?
I look at the sky, at the stars, at the mountains, at the ocean, at the whole planet, and all of a sudden everything gains its right magnitude.
Why do we exist then? To be part of this Planet and play our role in it.
6 • There’s no such thing as adjectives in nature
I feel safer in nature than I do in society because in nature there are no judgments nor adjectives. There are no expectations and things I should or shouldn’t do with my life.
In nature there’s just life.
There are no impossible expectations, there’s no perfection, there’s no “adequate” or “inadequate”. There’s only respect, equilibrium, and coexistence. Nobody cares about adjectives.
7 • Water is life
Those of us who never knew a day without access to fresh, potable, running water, we often give it for granted. We don’t do it on purpose, or because we are bad, insensitive people. It’s just something that we never thought of in a different way.
Water is gold. Let’s not waste it. Let’s not let people make businesses out of it.
8 • Borders do not exist
If you look at the world from the top of a mountain, you realise that borders do not exist. They were invented by men. What exists is a Planet on which we all live, of which we are all part of and on which we will all die one day.
All the rest is just an invention that, most of the time, acts as a cage. There’s no such thing as safety within a border.
9 • Your guts are in your brain
Trust your guts, which I personally think is one of the best pieces of advice they can give you. Now, to trust your guts doesn’t mean to be greedy and do as you please, but to trust your limbic part of the brain when it comes to make a decision or take a risk.
We are animals before being humans, which means that, like every other animal, we do have instincts and a sixth sense that, contrarily to what they make us think, are actually fundamental for our health and safety. And these instincts cannot be put into words, because they don’t belong to our elaborated way of living. They are simpler and more natural. They are there for you and, once you trust them, they will allow you to live more kindly than you can ever imagine.
Differently from many rules, should be’s and should do’s, they actually involve a lot more humanity and common sense than you think. Don’t numb them.
10 • 15 seconds can be an awfully long time
Try to spend 15 seconds focusing on your breath and your breath only, without thinking about anything else.
Okay, now you get what I mean.
11 • It’s all a matter of perspective
We grow in a society that gives us very specific and dogmatic points of view on things: what’s good and what’s bad, what’s positive and what’s negative, what makes us worthy and what doesn’t, what we should do and think and what we shouldn’t.
The result is control. Complete and absolute control of our lives. What we generally end up working 9-to-5 jobs for the majority of our days, with maybe one or two hours per week left to actually do what makes us passionate and happy. This is to earn money (which we’ve been told are the most important thing in life) in order to buy stuff. All sorts of stuff. Especially the stuff we don’t need, but that is very helpful to justify us spending our time doing something we probably don’t even like to earn those famous money.
But really, is this what is good, worthy and positive? Is this worth our sicknesses?
Play a game, change perspective: this is the only life you have. And it’s your life. It belongs to you and you only. And hey, you didn’t even have to pay for it! Are you sure you want to miss out on the real, beautiful, enthralling world that is out there just because someone told you this is how it ought to be? Are you sure you can’t live with less – and by less I mean A LOT less. Are you sure you need everything you think you need?
Sometimes nature can be incredibly inconvenient and uncomfortable.
12 • You are free
The majority of pillars on which our society stands were invented by mankind, and quite often go against the normal equilibrium of nature. Politics, money, borders, rules: they were all invented by mankind and, as such, cannot be naturally found within us. We need to force ourselves into a system to which we don’t naturally belong in order to live by them. Generally, frustration is the aftermath, leading to anger, leading to hate.
The truth is that you are free. You are free to choose. You are free to invent something different. You are free to change. To be the change you want to see in the world. This is your life and it’s important you choose how you want it to be, besides social expectations, conventions and impositions. A different way does exist.
The final Golden Lesson
In the end, the final Golden Lesson is that you already have everything you need. You have yourself. You have a choice. You have the possibility to love. You have this whole Planet. If you want to start living (and loving), you can start right away.