Communing with Nature
NEXT RETREATS: May 19 and June 23, 2013
How do we honor the ground on which we walk, the universe of stars and planets, the body with which we sense and breath, the very matrix within which we live? How do we honor Mother Nature? Indigenous peoples, including all of our ancestors, had ceremonial practices and rituals of initiation that fostered the experience of Nature as ally and protector, Nature as teacher and guide, Nature as source of strength and courage. They honored nature by opening to her in all these ways for their own good and for the good of the whole community. In these times, we can learn from these ancient ways to help us in uncovering our own human nature and bringing ourselves more fully into this world.
Everyone knows that being in nature can be relaxing and somewhat rejuvenating. Yet, three things can make the experience far more profound: 1) a conscious intention to open to the transforming power of the natural world; 2) learning to practice meditative methods and rituals that support awakening consciousness; 3) preparing for the journey with guidance.
For over twenty years, while living in California, I guided groups on wilderness quests that incorporated many of the ideas and practices of indigenous peoples along with other psychological and spiritual modalities. I called these experiences Quests for Wholeness and they involved four days of fasting alone in the desert wilderness. These sacred journeys held the intention for individuals to have experiences that were healing, enlivening and empowering for themselves, and at the same time, inspired them to orient their lives to better serve the Earth and all its inhabitants.
Living in New York, in the Lower Hudson Valley, I’ve been looking for practical ways to bring the teachings of these deep wilderness experiences to folks here. I have personally learned so much from the time alone in nature and the teachings I received have shaped much of the direction for my life. I’ve also seen profound experiences and growth in others who have made the quest to open themselves to the infinitely wise counsel of Mother Earth’s creative intelligence and energy.
Now that Ginny and I have our home in Tomkins Cove, our back door leads to vast wooded mountains, and we can offer guided experiences for communing and awakening with nature. We have been exploring these hills and trails with attention to finding good (and safe) places for people to be alone for several hours or overnight, depending on their needs. Small groups will be able to prepare together, find a place for solitude in nature and return for integration of the experience.
The Coming Home retreats provide an opportunity for you to be in solitude in nature and explore the questions you have about your life journey. Your experience will be driven by your intentions: for healing wounds of the past; envisioning direction for your life; or empowering you to act on your visions. The day-long process begins with a small group preparing together in the morning and receiving guidance in the use of meditation and simple, nature-based rituals before going out for the solo time. You then will go to a site to be alone in communion with the land, sky, plants and creatures that you encounter. Afterwards, we gather together again around the sacred fire to share and learn from the experience.
When we chose the name Sacred River Healing for the container of our work, Ginny and I wanted to honor both the river near us and the river within us. We recognize the healing that nature provides for our minds and bodies. We also see the harm that humans have done, and continue to do to the natural world, and we honor the healing work our soul’s call us to do FOR nature at this time. I strongly believe that these experiences will deeply serve both purposes.