In this blog series, we are highlighting the practices that our IONS staff members use to connect to noetic information and energy. This month Andrea Livingston, Associate Director of Engagement, shares her practices about connecting and communicating with nature as a noetic practice.
Nature connection has been a really important part of Andrea’s life — she was only three months old on her first camping trip, taken out to the forest and experiencing the quiet, solitude and connection with something bigger.
NF: Tell me how this connection with nature practice developed for you?
AL: I had experiences in nature starting when I was very young. Then, in high school, I started reading about nature and mysticism and I realized it was a really big movement. It put words to my transcendent experience of love and connection with nature. And, as I grew older, I continued to explore those experiences in nature with camping and backpacking. But the real noetic connection came from beginning to truly slow down to the pace of nature and listen deeply — honoring that we are surrounded by more than just human life. Nature is always around us and constantly sending messages to us, if we pay attention.
You could go mountain biking or climbing or hiking without actually attuning to the atmosphere and just be a visitor. Or, you could do that same activity and really slow down and realize that you’re interacting with intelligent beings, whether they be plant beings or animal beings or insect beings, and recognizing that there’s a whole living, vibrant world of interconnection around us at all times.
I feel like the two key components that make it more of a noetic practice for me is: 1) immersing myself in nature; and 2) slowing down and listening to the communication that is always there.
NF: What are some of the practical ways that you slow down in nature?
AL: Staying in one spot and simply observing is a powerful one — finding a rock or place to sit and observing every detail possible of what is happening around you. From one perspective you can look at a part of nature as a whole, like a tree or a mountain or a field. But, from another perspective, you observe all the small details like the bark on a redwood, the woody hairs on the back of the tree and how the cracks move and how the roots intertwine with each other. It’s a practice of first noticing and then praising nature and all the intricacies.
When I slow down and I allow myself to sit, without any agenda, and just observe the beauty, even at the smallest scale (like watching a single ant walk), I find magic in that. I have found it is important to not have any agenda, even if the agenda is to have an insight or certain experience. It’s about just being completely still and present with nature as it is and listening.
I remember one of my first vision fasts, I was out in the middle of nature for 10 days and solo for four of those. While I was alone, a lizard appeared and I just sat and had this dialog with this lizard, watching all of its tiny movements and taking in what an extraordinary creature it was. We just sat like that for about an hour in this unspoken conversation.
NF: What are some other practices that you use to explore interconnection with nature?
AL: I really like an observational practice I learned (I don’t know the original origin) which is to go to the same spot at the same time every day for 10 or 15 minutes, just to look at and observe what is going on around you. We can learn so much about what’s happening right outside our door, even if we just have one tree in a little patch of grass, nature is happening. There are creatures, the leaves are turning and we can watch the sun come up at a different angle every day. Slowing down enough to notice and connect with the cycles of nature is an amazing practice to tap into how we are all interconnected.
NF: So how does this kind of practice help you connect with noetic information and energy?
AL: Part of this kind of practice is being in nature but it’s also about your intention and where your attention is pulled. For example, you might have an internal question about something in your life and you can ask for it to be mirrored, and ask for communication from nature. Then, I simply just observe where my attention goes and it will be different even if I’ve walked the same path many times. For example, if my attention is really drawn to the fresh green tips of the leaves on a tree it may represent newness, fresh beginning, etc. Or, my attention might be really drawn to the dead, rotting log and I ask myself how that relates to my question. So it’s really about following and trusting our attention to see what is mirrored back.
NF: Are there any other particular resources that you’d like to share with people about communicating with nature as a noetic practice?
AL: I recently discovered information on “indoor forest bathing.” Of course, forest bathing has been popular for years, but over the last year, it’s been important to find things we can do inside or close to home, as well. You can sit in your own home, or even right outside your home, and observe any of the plants or insects. It’s a practice that can be used any place where there is nature, which is everywhere, if we pay attention.
Thank you so much, Andrea, for sharing your wisdom and experiences of Accessing “the Noetic” Through Conversations with Nature! To experiment with some nature connection practices, try out the experientials below!
Connection with Nature Practice #1
Choose a place to sit once a day at the same time for 10-15 minutes, without any agenda. Simply observe what is happening in the nature around you. If you choose, you can ask a question or set an intention and hold that in your heart as you notice where your attention is drawn and what information you receive from that.
Connection with Nature Practice #2
Watch the Nature Sounds Meditation video (4 minutes) or choose one of your own. Simply watch the images and listen to the sounds and take in all the details. Notice where your attention is naturally drawn. Notice any thoughts, feelings, sensations or insights you may experience during this experience.
Want to learn more about what IONS is up to? We invite you to attend one of our upcoming FREE ConnectIONS Live webinars! Led by IONS scientists, educators, and partners, these webinars feature presentations on cutting-edge noetic research and experiential transformative practices.