Blog post 3.8.12

by Nancy on March 8, 2012

The Peaceful Power of Nature Connection


Sit-Spot on the Creek


When I want some peace and quiet, free from the distractions of this busy life, I go to the creek behind my home. Phone calls, emails that suck me into cyberspace, errands and household chores, work-related busy-work and the practicalities of daily life ~ my head is spinning trying to prioritize and give each the attention it needs from me ~ or what I think it needs…but what I really need are a few moments of peace to quiet my mind and that is why I go to the creek. A three-minute walk is all it takes, to bring me to this spot where I sit on the smooth ledge that juts out into the creek. Here is where the water is not rushing by as fast as the thoughts in my head, but where the current is barely discernable most of the year, unless a floating fallen leaf might be drifting by. Now, in the frozen time, snaking ice between drifts of snow hints of movement below the gleaming solid surface.

This is the stillness I seek for my mind. I’ve been working with this technique called a Sit-Spot, for quite some time. Basically, it’s a place in nature you choose to sit and observe the natural world. By focusing on whatever presents itself in the immediate vicinity when I am quiet and still…listening for the quietest sound, for instance, I can override the sound of trucks on the highway and hear the slightest rustle of a bird in dry leaves, the whisper of a breeze, the snapping of growing ice, a cricket in the grass or what Joni Mitchell calls, “the hissing of summer lawns.” And when I do this, I can’t possibly think about all that stuff that was running around in my head earlier because there isn’t room for it! Sometimes all I need is 15 minutes ~ I’m refreshed and ready to go back to work, energized and more focused so I actually accomplish much more when I return than if I had continued to spin my wheels in the sands of confusion. I have another Sit-Spot at my family home in Forest Bay; down by the water, with the vast view up the lake before me ~ I can get lost in that one for an hour or more.

Sometimes I cannot take such a long break or weather conditions like freezing temps or pouring rain might make the Sit-Spot not conducive to actually sitting out there for very long. But recently I discovered that I can have more than one Sit-Spot and they can be as close to home as my back yard. The other afternoon, I bundled up good and sat on the bench on the porch and just sat. And in that quiet, I heard movement in the leaves on the other side of the field, it sounded like footsteps in the dry leaves on the bare and frozen snowless ground. I thought there might be a deer approaching and sat very still, waiting for it to appear, but it never did. In my stillness and quietness I discovered the source of the rustling… robins were rummaging in the leaves for seeds. And then I noticed they were all around me ~ there were robins everywhere! They were in the leaves on the ground, in the sumac trees plucking berries from the red fruits and on the ground where they were dropping, in the apple tree…there must have been two dozen at least ~ I lost track counting them, and I also lost track of what had been agitating me before I stepped outside.

Yesterday I found another Sit-Spot ~ in my living room. I can see out the window into the yard and as I zoned out a bit, I noticed movement in the woods. Two gray squirrels and one black…busily scrounging among the oak trees’ leaves on the ground, they looked like they may have been trying to get to their food caches buried in the frozen earth. Without the insulating snow cover to keep the ground from freezing, they couldn’t dig them up! Which would explain why they had been devouring the sunflower seed in my birdfeeders daily. It sure helped create some compassion for their predicament and maybe I’m not so annoyed with them today J.

Five minutes of being present with nature creates such stress-relief in my life ~ a worthwhile investment I’m more than willing to make. I highly recommend it.