Monday, July 2, 2012

The Forest Unseen ~ 30 Day Meditation Wrap-up

Throughout the 30 Day Meditation Challenge I was reading a wonderful book, The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature. This book is a cross between meditation and biology. It was not a book to hog down like The Hunger Games. Rather, it was to be taken in small sips, savored and let to bubble inside.

The author, David Haskell uses the idea of a Tibetan mandala, in this case a patch of old-growth Tennessee forest, as a window into the natural world. He committed to visiting this mandala, as often as he could, for one whole year. As I read, I was continually delighted with both the learning I was gaining through his knowledge of the natural world, and with his obvious connection to meditation / yogic philosophy. And, I am amazed at his perseverance; committing to sit every day for 30 days seemed like something - but committing to sit for a year? Wow.

I would like to pass on one of the author's insights, a summing up of his year, based on his idea of taking a meditative stance while sitting in nature:

The interior quality of our minds is itself a great teacher of natural history. It is here that we learn that "nature" is not a separate place. We too are animals, primates with a rich ecological and evolutionary context. By paying attention, this inner animal can be watched at any time: our keen interest in fruits, meats, sugar and salt; our obsession with social hierarchies, clans and networks; our fascination with the aesthetics of human skin, hair, and bodily shapes; our incessant intellectual curiosity and ambition. Each one of us inhabits a storied mandala with as much complexity and depth as an old-growth forest. Even better, watching ourselves and watching the world are not in opposition; by observing the forest, I have come to see myself more clearly.
~ David Haskell

Lovely perspective. Is that not what we are each trying to do as we sit? We are looking to know ourselves better; to know our light and our shadow; to know ourselves as one with all.