Foreign Nature

By Dharmadevi Romano
June 13, 2017

After a couple years of starting up my first business and “burning the midnight oil”, my body began to rebel in ways I could no longer ignore. It started with a searing pain in my right hand, then my eyesight started getting fuzzy, to the point where I couldn’t see the computer screen. So it was that my body decided we needed to take a break!

I didn’t know how to meditate; I simply sat outside, I couldn’t read (my eyes were that bad), there were no smartphones, no Facebook – just me and nature. It was glorious! Before long, I began to feel a growing sense of unity with the birds, the trees, the earth, and the air. They seemed to welcome me when I came to my usual spot each day. Gradually, my senses became more acute as though they were being purified. In time, I could see more clearly than before I damaged my eyes with too much computer work!

About a year passed, at which time I found Autobiography of a Yogi and the path of Self-Realization. When I moved to California among the many inner and outer changes, my life became dramatically more active. I found myself in Santa Monica, its manicured yards, hedges, and bushes looking more like modern art than anything natural. I felt disconnected from my animal and plant friends.

Years have passed and my life hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. My connection with nature has remained alive only through few-and-far-between visits to places of immense beauty, like the Sequoia and Joshua Tree National Parks. I’ve often wondered if I’d ever feel the deep connection with nature I had while in Georgia.

This past Sunday, it so happened that my body decided it needed some rest and would not cooperate in sitting upright. It was pretty clear I wouldn’t make it to our Sunday Service. I succeeded in getting in a brief meditation and proceeded to fall back asleep for another three hours. At noon, I attempted to do something “useful” like answer emails, read a book, even meditate, but each time my body would start to shut down in multifaceted ways. So, there I laid for another four hours (I could move my right forefinger so the practice of Hong-Sau was a hit!).

Finally, I was able to drag myself out of bed and assume the same position outside, knowing the fresh air and change of scenery would do me some good. I honestly couldn’t do anything but stare at the manicured hedge in front of me. But then an amazing thing happened! After about ten minutes, nature started to come to life in front of me. It was as though enough time had passed that I was no longer a foreign invader, rather I became integrated into my natural environment. The animals and trees accepted me – either as a non-threat or at least as a new extension of the furniture.

I enjoyed watching the birds and butterflies for at least an hour. I realized the only reason I hadn’t felt connected with nature since moving to California was my own busyness, which just reminded me of something our dear friend, Joseph Bharat Cornell (not coincidentally the founder of  Sharing Nature Worldwide) told me when I lived at Ananda Village. To paraphrase, “There’s true busyness, and busyness just for the sake of being busy.”

I invite you to take some time every day to simply BE.