Happy Spring friends! Blommetjies are blooming! Babies are popping! Joburgers are shopping!
I was up in Johannesburg again recently to present a training to Virgin active. I do enjoy the energy and the novelty of being in the “city of gold” but this time it made me really clear on what Joburgers miss out on.
I was with a friend sharing a fermented drink and I reflecting on the past few days of training. I said the problem with Johannesburg is that there is no river, lake or ocean to give it a centre and a heart. It has no geographic context and it’s dry. So dry that recently there have been dust storms. I was saying I thought that kind of thing only happened in the places like Saudi Arabia.
Among the dry stream beds there are highways choking on traffic and cars carrying people transiting purposefully between meetings in shopping malls. Outside the safety of the shopping malls it’s a bit like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Water is scarce, villainous warlords rule, and every man must defend his territory or perish.
Of the two friends that I was hosted by there (both very peaceful and open hearted people), one keeps a knobkerrie in the front of the car and the other has nun chucks and fighting sticks. At least they don’t carry guns and flamethrowers like in the movies.
Well maybe that’s being just a little melodramatic and I say this knowing full well that it might stir some defensiveness in a few Joburgers.
Each visit makes me so appreciative of Cape Town. We can be out on the mountain or on the ocean in next to no time. There are nooks and grottoes on the mountain where a person feel the expanse of the slopes and in this season, we can sit and hear only the sound of water. There are moments of sitting out in the ocean with only seals and seabirds for company and nothing to take my attention but the play of sunrays through the cloud cover.
And so I’m writing today a little about nature, and her position in my life.
There is nothing like the sound of birds and fresh air to restore your mind-body connection. It’s like a reboot for the mind.
I have sometimes asked the question to friends. What is the role of nature for us? What is our relationship? Is it a resource to be used for free? A dose of nature therapy that we reach for when the stress levels get a bit uncomfortable? These self-prescribed happy pills are there for the taking. How much do we appreciate and honour this resource? Is there something that we should be giving back to Mama Nature?
I admit that this Winter I have been downing those mountain happy pills like there’s no tomorrow. Having a new dog, who needs to run regularly, means there has been plenty of trail time and time to reflect on the mind set of being out there. It feels like maybe our problems are relative to altitude. More altitude brings more perspective and problems somehow just get smaller.
“We are less hypnotised by our habitual tumble dryer of thoughts and are drawn instead to the aliveness of the present moment: the sound of the wind in the trees, the solidity of the earth beneath our feet, the warmth of the sun on our face.” Mark Coleman- Author of Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a path to Self Discovery
Perhaps this is the original mindfulness training programme. Just to be out alone with one’s own mind and thoughts. There is a special kind of natural mindful state that we access out in nature. Attention becomes effortless. Awareness becomes clearer and we feel renewed. All the old sages were hermits living in nature.
Then, if you want to, drop into another level try adding some meditation or yoga practice while you are out there. In the early days of my meditation practice I lived in Asia and I had a routine that was like this: walk up a hill as high as possible or until tired. Find a quiet place preferably with a view. Take off shoes and sit on them. Close eyes. Sit quietly and listen for as long as feels good. Then walk down again.
Just some thoughts as we move out of Winter and into Spring. Get out there into nature.
But if it’s not possible, of course the team at ReUnion Yoga would also love to see you at class inside the studio.
As always thank-you for reading.
I am because you are and we are because we open each other’s messages.