May 17, 2013

All My Relations - Learning From Nature

We can learn a lot from observing our animal relations

"All my relations" is an expression highlighting the basic philosophy of many Native Americans. According to these beliefs, animals, plants, stones, and humans are all related because we come from a common source.

But we have become dangerously separated from contact with these relatives by modern fast-paced lifestyles. Standing Bear warned us, "Man's heart away from nature becomes hard".

Besides a diminished sense of compassion, the lack of exposure to nature also means a loss of knowledge. We are missing out on valuable lessons in the greatest classroom of all. However, it is always there, waiting for us to pay attention.

"Look at the flowers - for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are."    - Osho

Even in the city, the sky is always above. Flowers grow in cracks in the sidewalk. Gulls clean up the fries someone left on the bench. How can we notice these things when we are constantly rushing around struggling to "get ahead"?

We have to go slow, or better yet stop entirely, to observe and learn from nature. Its lessons often progress slowly with the phases of the moon and turn of the seasons.

From observing the rich world of nature we can learn how to live comfortably and sustainably on earth. We can learn about ourselves and how we fit into the larger picture of life.

5 Things I've Learned From Nature

1. Slow and steady gets the job done. Water wears down mountains to mole hills over millions of years. Nature doesn't hurry - neither should we.
2. Cooperation rules.  The excitement of competition may get all the headlines, but it is good old boring cooperation that is the overriding factor in nature. Like a beehive, things hum along nicely when everything works together toward a common purpose.
3. Don't take more than your fair share. Excluding the human animal, other creatures do not consume more than they need. If they did, their ecosystem would crash and the population could not be sustained. Nature deals harshly with the over-harvesting of resources.
4. Don't struggle. Water flows along the path of least resistance. It doesn't fight the rock in its way - it finds a way around it. Somehow, when you let go and let your life begins to flow like water, things always manage to work out. Nature's abundance provides when you let it flow into your life.
5. Do what you can with what you have where you are at. When the seed of a tree falls to the ground it uses what it has to grow at that spot. I have seen trees growing in the most challenging of locations, including in cracks in the rock high up mountainsides.

All your relations are waiting for you in their beauty and wisdom. All it takes is a few minutes of down time in order to have a quiet meditation on the natural world, of which we are but one part.

It can be done anywhere, anytime. Watch and learn. Feel the joy, the delight.

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."  
- Kahlil Gibran

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