You wake up, and as soon as you open your eyes, you turn up the volume to as much as you can stand. It plays your favorite songs. You have that music blaring from the moment you wake up to the moment you go back to sleep. You fall asleep to that blaring music, and even though the music turns itself off, you never knew it. Its day after day after day like this. Its difficult, because your favorite songs are always playing, so you're always torn: desperate for a moment to hear yourself think again, but always moving on to and wanting to hear the next song.
You get used to this painful level of stimulation, by disconnecting a little from yourself, you stop trying to hear what you are thinking, feeling and let this music take up more of your space, your mental, emotional, spiritual space. Instead of transcendence, where music would normally bring us, you feel fragmented, scattered.
You forgot that you love silence...or the small sounds of leaves blowing in the breeze, a lizard shuffling through the leaves, rain drops falling, the birds chirping in the distance.
Then you take sacred time in nature. At first, its boring, it feels not stimulating enough. Slowly, a feeling begins swelling, this feeling of relief, gratitude, belonging and love. It shows up slowly like the sunrise and feels like the feeling you get if you hadn't seen your loved ones, hadn't been touched, in many months and finally your mother hugs you, and you melt and cry and unravel in the best possible way.
The digital life can be like this music that won't ever end. Your mother is nature. You have not let her embrace you, or kiss you. She is not perfect, but she is real, and she can hold you and nurture you in a way that nothing else can or ever will.
And here I am, feeling it, in nature's imperfect but deeply real and deeply needed embrace. I go back and forth like this, forgetting that I am simply a creature in an ecosystem, breathing, growing, feeling. Then returning home. Remembering I love what is natural and what is real.
For many years, I've done this alone. I often need help to get here. It would be easier if you felt this with me too, I know you need this too. I will go back into this virtual world, to get you, and bring you with me, with the sky above our head, the flowers in the our hands, the breeze lifting away the heavy, exhausting phantasmagoria of tech and into the deep and alive now...so that together, we remind each other: this is what it real.
An Experience: Freedom Time in Nature
This was an exercise I tried, and I now schedule this in my calendar each week. It's my moment of mental rest. It ensures that I allow myself to be alive and free, I thought I would share it here, in case you feel the same need I feel: to just be.
1. Pick, schedule and block off interruptions for a time frame of 90min-3 hours.
2. Prepare everything you need to be as physically comfortable as possible outside, in nature. Once you are outside, commit to welcoming all discomfort.
- Bring more clothes than you think you will need for all weather types
- Bring a journal to write down urgent/important distractions while you are in nature, that you can review after your session.
- Bring a timer (NOT your phone!) that has no connection to the internet or other distractions, so if you have hard time limits, you're not pre-occupied with time.
- Bring a small chair or mat, to rest
- Bring anything else you like that fosters your relationship with nature. This is not meditation, this is being in nature, meditation my show up, but its only if your being and nature move you naturally towards that state.
3. Do this alone for your first couple of rounds. Only bring others when you are sure it's coming from their own desire, when the time and context is right, for them.
What do you do in nature?
For 90min-3 hrs, whatever time frame you like, you leave your phone in the car, as well as all other digital devices, and you do whatever your body would like to do, as a creature in an ecosystem, not as a thinking brain. For this sacred time, you can sit and stare, you can walk, run, whatever you want. You have total freedom here. The only thing you can't do, is do something tech related. It's the one time you are not on a screen, not available whatsoever to the outside world.
The goal is no goal. It's to simply exist.
After the experience...
Tell me what it was like. If you're in Austin, maybe we can have some freedom time in nature together sometime!