Updated: Dec 12, 2022
Stepping outdoors to sense the beauty and nature around us can do wonders for the soul. There is an enlivening that happens when we feel the sunshine on our skin, the wind in our hair, and breathe in the fresh air. We go into a symbiotic relationship with the trees and plants- exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide, each nourishing the other. We remember something about ourselves if we open the heart- a whisper of that wildness that is still caged inside each of us! Our hearts know the way.
The other day, I let myself wander along the river's edge. A Northern Flicker lit and flew and called out from branch to branch along the forest path as if to say, "Follow me! I will lead you somewhere special." So I followed. Sure enough- he led me to a downed cottonwood tree and the remains of its trunk became my sit spot.
What is a sit spot, one might ask. As the name suggests, it's a great place to sit. But rather than getting lost in thought, or passing the time by being on a device or reading a book, talking, or eating even, a sit spot is a place to sit and become fully present. A place to observe, notice, and become curious about what's taking place right there, right then. A sit spot is a place to spend time in, and return to so one can begin to notice subtle changes that take place. It's a spot one can go to morning, noon, or night to grow familiar with its nuances and its other inhabitants. Somewhere to watch the seasons change. And in time, relationships form, one can begin to feel part of it. Though we can feel part of any old place we choose to take a sit, having a specific sit spot that one returns to deepens a sense of belonging unlike just walking by or passing through.
I particularly like having sit spots close to home, on my porch or in my garden. But I also enjoy having and sit spots that take some effort to arrive at. The ones farther from home invite intentionality. They become an invitation to go on a wonder walk.
When I set out on a wonder walk, I let myself wander, pausing whenever something catches my attention. There is no specific outcome- I'm not walking to get exercise (per se, that becomes an added bonus), nor do I usually have a set objective or destination, nothing to accomplish. I try to allow ample time so there is a feeling of freedom in the experience. I let my senses become the guide. Noticing the temperature, the breeze, the quality of light, areas in shadow, textures in the plant life and tree trunks, sounds of birdsong and buzzing of insects. I engage fully and stop to smell or feel things, like the rough or smooth bark on different types of trees, a certain sweetness or earthiness in their scent. Sometimes I taste the flowers and herbs growing along the path (the ones I know well) I allow myself to stay with one thing until I notice a desire to move on. When that urge hits, I feel gratitude for the lessons learned through experience. I thank the tree or sunflower, the river, the caw of the crows or splash of the river fish.
The heart opens so easily when we are enraptured in this way and for me, being in nature for the sole pleasure of being in natural settings is like open heart surgery.