Spiritual Reconnection: John Muir Wilderness
Nature and spirituality are profoundly enmeshed.
I am always astounded when people try to think of themselves as separate from nature. We are interwoven in this beautiful and complex system of mutually interacting biological organisms. *Researchers found that spending quiet time in forests reduces anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and general fatigue and improves our immune system. I find that time spent in nature detoxes my whole being: body, mind, and soul.
According to Yoga Philosophy, all of nature is comprised of five elements (Pancha Maha Bhutas): Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether (Prithivi, Jala, Agni, Vayu, Akasha) which, according to Samkhya philosophy, are the gross elements produced from the subtle elements called the Tanmatras. The five rudimentary subtle elements (Tanmatras) are: Smell, Taste, Vision, Touch, and Sound.
- Smelling is related to Earth.
- Tasting is related to Water
- Seeing is related to Fire
- Touching is related to Air
- Sound is related to the spiritual realm (Ether)
When we let our feet sink into real earth, when we immerse ourselves in wild waters, when we see natural beauty, when we feel the brush of fresh air, when we turn off all the noise and listen to the vibrational hum that is living nature, we find profound healing. The ancient sages realized this and created philosophical and spiritual systems to help us reconnect to nature, which is reconnecting to our source.
This is my church.
When I first step into the wilderness, there is a physical and energetic detox: my heart pumps, my muscles burn, my body sweats, and my respiratory system goes into overdrive. On the first day out I like to hike to the point of exhaustion before stopping to set up our home as a way of releasing pent-up tensions and emotional impurities.
On days two, three, and beyond a mental and spiritual detox takes place. The mental clutter and excess noise begin to diminish. Gentle sounds riding upon the waves of silence have a way of purifying the psyche. Priorities shift, awareness deepens; I find my true Self once again.