Opening the sacred book of nature

By Ásta Arnardóttir

In the modern world, where we have largly forgotten how to listen, feel and sense the natural world, there is suffering and a sense of separation. The science of yoga,  or the science of the spiritual in the natural world, has adressed this suffering in a profound way. To heal the human condition it is vital to bring back the awearness of the natural world, the awearness of the interconnectedness of all life. The ancient word Yoga means union. It points to the reality that there is no separation, everything is interconnected. The body, the mind, the emotions are interconnected. The human being, animals and plants are interconnected. The diverse manifestation of life on earth is innterconnected in a sacred wholeness / union.
   The simple act of walking in nature can give us a sense of this wholeness / union. We feel connection to the earth and the beauty of the landscape and the illusion of separated existence starts to fade away. This happens very naturally. Throughout my exsperience as a mountainguide I have witnessed this over and over again. To walk in nature is a spiritual exsperience whether we acknowlage it as such or not. It is an exsperience that brings to awarness what matters in life and what is less important. It brings to awarness that life is very short and precious. It brings to awearness that we do not exsist as sepparate intities, but as a whole. We are completely dependent on the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink. And whether we are awear of it or not we feast on the abundance of nature every single moment of our lives. Inspite of this we often exsperience lack and suffering.
   The science of yoga has for thousends of years given a clear direction in to the nature of this suffering. That the suffering is in the mind. In the movements of the mind, how we grasp what is pleasant and avoid what is unpleasant. This leads to greed and hatred and actions motivated by delusion and selfishness. The science of yoga teaches how to liberate ourselves from the narrow mind of greed and hatred. How to live mindfully and be aware of the motivations of our actions, the cause and the effect. The natural world teaches us all about this interconnectedness and the nature of a conditioned life. The seed of a desert flower in the highlands needs water to awaken to its purpose to grow into a flower. In the same way we need awareness to awaken to our purpose to grow in compassion and wisdom. Walking in nature, listening and sensing the natural world gives a precious opportunity to awaken this awarness. In the same way as the science of yoga always points to the power of now, hiking in nature brings us into the present moment. The simple act of being present gives joy and a liberating perspective to the nature of thoughts and the human condition.
   In the treks we practise yogaposes in the morning and in the afternoon, we align the body which helps align with nature. We walk in nature and practise breathing, listening and sensing the natural world. One of the precious gifts of the highlands is the silence. Walking in silence deepens the connection to nature and gives us an opportunity to go beyond all ideologies. To truly visit nature on its own terms, the flowers, the plants, the animals, the mountains, rivers and lakes, which do not express themselves through words and ideology, is liberating for all, giving us a precious opportunity to quiet down our minds and open to the vast conciousness beyond words. Eckart Tolle has described this date between nature and the human being in a beautiful way: “ Nature can give you stillness. That is her present to you. When you share your life with her in stillness then this stillness is infused with awearness. That is your present to nature”.
   Yoga in nature has been a very joyful and liberating exsperience for all participants. And participants have been diverse, young and old, yogies and people completely new to yoga, hikers and people completely new to hiking. All together simply celebrating our exsistance on this beautiful planet. By developing treks with an opportunity to investigate the spiritual in the natural world, I hope to bring awearness to our interconnectedness with the earth. And I know that our connection with nature will eventuallay give us a direction how to move away from the self-betrayal manifested in modern culture in the way we have manipulated the natural world with devastating consiquenses. Now in  the beginnig of the 21st century we are at a threshold, we have an opportunity to pick up the compass and choose spiritual values as our main directions. In the same way as we use the compass in the wilderness when weather conditions are challenging, we can use spiritual directions in times of crises. Walking in nature naturally aligns us with spiritual directions, such as compassion, harmony, mindfulness and respect for all life which leads us home to the present moment on this precious planet. Listening, feeling and sensing the natural world is a wonderful healing process that awakens our awerness and awearness naturally creates protection. We are responsible for the health and well being of our world.