About a month ago, I started having vivid dreams of the California redwood forest. These massive trees are thousands of years old and are the largest and tallest trees in the world. Night after night, I saw myself walking amongst these beautiful behemoths and felt myself sink into the deep time of nature. When I later reflected on what these dreams could mean, two things came to mind: (1) my desire to listen more closely to my needs, and (2) my ongoing commitment to exquisite self-care.
Since October of last year, my work and travel schedules have taken me to a new location almost every week, with the occasional two-week stretch in one place. I love all of the wonderful moments of connection I’ve had with so many unique people. Every few days my heart is opened by a new adventure, a new person, a new opportunity to share the wisdom of horses with others. But, as I’ve been tuning in with my body more and more, I notice it speaking up to let me know it’s in need of some serious grounding to balance out the stress of such constant change. It does this through physical muscle tension, general feelings of fatigue, and a longing for silence. And then, these dreams.
I was scheduled to meet a friend in New York and normally, once I have agreed to be somewhere I wouldn’t even think about changing my plans. But I thought about mother nature’s unwavering ability to lean into what she needs. I’ve been trying to take more cues from her, so rather than continue my breakneck pace simply because it had been planned, I decided to trust the way my body was communicating with me and the visions I’d been having. I changed my flight and headed to Santa Cruz for a week by myself to commune with the ancient redwoods. Boy am I grateful I did!
The redwoods are magnificent. Author John Steinbeck wrote, “…they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” Each day, I made a point to hike into the forest and simply wander around, letting my body lead the way. Luckily, my cell reception didn’t work, so I was conveniently offline too! As soon as I would step onto the hiking path I would notice my breathing pattern change. My heart rate slowed and I entered into that space of deep eternal time. It felt like I was witnessing life in slow motion. The sensations were utterly decadent.
I wandered in silence for hours. I listened to the wind blowing through the trees. I heard the call of birds and scurry of little creatures moving around me. I felt the way the trees would shift together, almost like they were dancing as I moved through them. I peeked the blue sky so high overhead and the sunlight filtering down through branches and vibrant green flora. My heart was filled with so much love. I felt so present and connected to this ancient place. I cannot tell you how healing and restorative it was! The tension in my body melted away. My energy slowly came back. Everything inside of me was whispering, “thank you.”
Easy but powerful practices for grounding in nature:
Mother nature has a powerful ability to lull us into her natural rhythms. Without much thought or effort, our bodies quickly synchronize with her energy and frequency. You may not have an intense travel schedule, but I’d venture to guess that many of you are facing the same challenges that come with a lot of change and chaos. Our bodies weren’t meant to handle the level of stress that most of us consider to be just an average Wednesday. If you’re feeling bold, I urge you to make that trip to the place your body is calling you to and see what happens! Or if you can’t get away, I wanted to share some easy but powerful practices for grounding:
Mini Tech Detox: Turn your cell phone and computer off for an hour. Or take a day to go completely offline and sink into the world around you. Notice what fears arise or how often you instinctively want to “check in.” Notice what happens to your sense of time.
Play with your pet: Sit down and really play with your dog! Look into her eyes and let her lead you around the house or yard. Or let your cat take you for an adventure into his secret world. If you don’t have a pet, borrow a friend’s!
Awaken Your Senses: The next time you have a meal, slow down and really savor the taste, smell, texture, and feeling of eating. See how many sensations you can be aware of. Eat as slowly as you can. Then speed up to your normal pace and notice how the experience changes.
Commune with Nature: Sit outside in your yard or a park and look closely at the trees. Watch the sky. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature. Simply be with the world around you.
As we continue to navigate the complexities of modern life and a changing world, there’s no question we may lose our footing or, at times, feel ungrounded. The thing to remember is that mother earth is always just beneath our feet, solid and present, if we can let ourselves sink in and take root.