Humans cry. Dogs whine. Trees crackle. What do these three have in common? Feelings! At least that is what author Peter Wohlleben proposes in his two popular books: The Hidden Life of Trees and The Inner Life of Animals. Peter shares intriguing facts revealing distinct personalities and the intuitive social nature of all living things! If you can wrap your mind around this notion, you will discover that humans have more similarities with the plant and animal world than you ever thought! In fact, thinking is one of the greatest blocks for humans, being both a virtue and vice.
Plants and animals instinctively know how to survive and even thrive. Humans on the other hand are a little different because of their capacity for imagination. Humans can imagine catastrophic disasters as well as heavenly blissful experiences, unconsciously triggering their nervous system into fight or flight when there is no real risk or meditatively inducing calm when exposed to real risk! Our capacity to thrive is just as inherent as the plant and animal world. We just need to disengage from limiting thoughts and trust our instinctual knowing. Easier said than done? Maybe!
Psychology, as defined in the dictionary, is the scientific study of the human mind and it’s functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context. Applying this to the plant world, imagine the behaviour of a tree revealing it’s ‘mindset’. If it grows toward the sun and flexes with the wind; if it grows massive roots that breaks through paved paths; or remains green and vibrant through all kinds of weather, what do each of these tell you about their inherent personality? Whether it is an evergreen tree that remains ever green, a deciduous tree that annually sheds it leaves or a coniferous tree that bears cones, each have a personality unique to its type … which brings to mind the monkey tree. Does it have a monkey mind?!
Buddhist texts use the term monkey mind to describe the continuous chatter of the human mind. Neuroscientists reveals that the majority of human thoughts are not only repetitive, but also negative. Monkeys on the other hand are brilliant creatures who have been tested to be even smarter than humans! This may be due to their instinctual nature and pattern of tuning into what feels right for them … which leads to the ultimate question we all need to ask ourselves: “What feels right for me?” Grab a banana and ponder this question for a while. See what emerges! Eep eeep!!
AHHchooh! sniffle, sniffle. Hawnkkk!!! Schoowhhhh! (wipe, wipe)
It’s cold season. Yes the season of cold! Where temperatures dip below freezing, where there is nip in the air and mist from human breath. Cold is also evident in the human body, where extremities can be chilled to the point of numbness and no feelings at all. Fingers, toes, hands, feet, ears and nose turn rosy red or white! Circulation is disrupted, joints stiffen and internal flow of air and fluids are literally stilted. Such are the perils of human journey!
Cold is also a term for an illness where blockages inhibit natural wellness. Air is constricted to the point that free flow is no longer present. Hence, sniffle sniffle, hawnkkk and schooowwhhh arises! Similarily, a ‘cold’ of the mind inhibits natural vitality with blocks to free flowing thoughts. Likened to mucus, these too can be relieved! Cold of the mind is self-induced for many. Release the ickiness and stickiness so that ease of flow awaits! Surprise yourself by applying this to any physical symptoms in the moment. Release negative thoughts such as “I am sick.” or “I hate this.” and replace it with “I am a healthy and vibrant being.” Repeat this for the rest of your life and see what happens!
A brick-lined plaza sandwiched between a row of stores and a parking lot yields a stream of people. Big and small, young and old meander between large cement planters and a bicycle rack filled with bikes. The array of stores within include a coffee shop, convenience store and a travel agency. Amongst these also is a daycare for preschool aged children, whose bustling activity captures the attention of many passerbys, including a wee 1-year-old toddler.
Grandma stands in the periphery watching her grandson as he toddles towards the daycare window. Curious about the beings beyond the glass and their buoyant energy, the toddler stands transfixed at the window, just staring for 5 minutes or more without moving a single muscle. On the other side of the glass, 4 little ones have now congregated at the window, staring back at the toddler. Both seem mesmerized by each other. There are no words or sounds exchanged between them as the glass buffers all noise. The only form of communication is through their eyes and bodily gestures which evolve into hand waving, head bobbing and cute little faces pressed against the glass!
This animal-like exchange between tiny humans reminds us of an important lesson in life. When we let go of the mental chatter and need to label, define and express in words, we can sink fully into our sensory experiences to inhabit life just as it is in the moment. Surprising insights and revelations arise when we are open to being fully present in the here and now. These tiny children mirror this with their congenial rapport even though they have never met before. Become a vessel for unknowns and surely you will come home to your inner knowing!
A heap of colourful fabrics were mounded at one end of a table. Next to it was a large white roll of cotton batting, squares of cereal box cardboard, scissors, glue bottles and a metal box filled with acrylic paints. The project for the art class was to create art journal covers for handmade art journals made out of recycled materials. The class was specifically designed for teens and participants were eager to start their projects.
A young boy scanned the pile of material looking for specific colours. He had envisioned the sky and was looking for blues, white, and various shades of grey. He found white and blue but to his disappointment, there were no grey fabrics at all. So he puzzled over his predicament and asked the instructor if she had any grey fabric. She replied, “Yes, I do at home. I will bring it in for our next class.” The boy was relieved but soon discovered he did not want to wait so he sat quietly with the problem and then suddenly came up with an ingenious solution. He decided he would paint the white fabric and create his own array of grey fabrics!
Mixing white with black paints, he found the tone was much too dark to his liking. Mixing white with a bit of grey was perfect though and as he continued mixing different portions of white with grey, he created a wonderful scope of greys for his project!
This young boy reminds us of a valuable lesson in life. When we stay focused on our vision, moment by moment, answers come to us. On top of that, not allowing disappointments to inhibit us but to merely see them as obstacles to overcome is imperative. Stay open to the path of creative adventure and your true potential will reveal itself in miraculous ways!
Houses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big and some a small, each serving a specific purpose. There are guest houses, green houses, dog houses and unusual houses. Houses on wheels and houses on stilts. Houses made of wood and houses made of stones, straw and mud. Some houses are nestled in a tree while others are situated out in a wide open space. One particular type of house which is not a house, is the outhouse. Despite its differences and reputation for being overly aromatic in an unpleasant way, the outhouse has many surprising similarities when compared to other houses.
Such is the case with four grand outhouses at Tribune Bay Provincial Park on Hornby Island. These golden orange coloured houses, constructed of cedar logs resemble elegant, classical log homes perched atop a hillside. All four outhouses were wheelchair accessible, built upon large white cement slabs overlooking paradise-like views. Lush evergreen mountains encased the bay, numerous sailboats, big and small, floated in shimmering waters all pointing towards a most pristine beach. Atop and around the fine warm white sand was mother nature’s grand artistry. Beautiful sun-dried, weather sculpted tree trunks lay scattered everywhere and unique sandstone carved landscapes enveloped the beach at either ends. The bay was a spectacular feast for the senses!
Stepping into one of the outhouses was actually a surprising experience as there was no nose-wrinkling odour but only the beautiful scent of sun-baked cedar! The interior was bright and spacious, revealing yet another surprise: happy inhabitants! Yes! Little black winged flies buzzing joyfully around! This revelation dispelled entrenched myths about outhouses. Our mind is powerfully influential in creating our realities. If we stop the inner chatter and stay open in the moment, who knows what we might discover! We could break a lifetime of patterned thinking and delightfully discover something that was never ever perceived possible before! After all, who would have known that gorgeous outhouses filled with delightfully sweet aromas exists on our planet?!
Smoke filled skies blanketed the neighbourhood, eroding air quality to alarming heights for some local residents. Gone were blue summer skies, puffy white clouds and the sweet aromas of floral abundance. Instead, an air of heaviness hung over the community with fog-like qualities. One could not see beyond streets’ end nor could they breathe deeply without feeling some sort of discomfort within. As a result, many people stayed indoors, waiting for the smoke to dissipate, hoping for rains to come and cleanse the heavily-polluted air.
And then one day, the rains did come and it rained for an entire day. The next day, the sky reappeared. Beautiful blue skies that had not been visible for weeks captured the attention of many. Puffy white clouds returned as well, along with small airplanes and many varieties of birds that filled the air with delightful melodies once again. Their songs felt celebratory as if to mark the return of life! People emerged from their homes to stroll through neighbourhoods. Dogs came out for walks too. Suddenly, there were sounds of life echoing throughout the community. And there were also breathtaking views of mountain ranges, waterways and ancient treetops in the distance. Further beyond, radiant sunrises and glowing sunsets dazzled horizons. All was back to normal and a deep sense of gratitude washed over the community.
Looking back amidst those smoke filled weeks, it was only the sun that emitted a sense of beauty in the environment. Its’ brilliant orange glow cut through the smokey haze as if reflecting the hundreds of wildfires raging across the lands. Similar to life’s journey, a single light source may be the only way out of a dense haze of confusion. Blinded by an inner fog, one cannot see or even perceive what lies ahead. No depth of perception is available. All one can do at times like this is refer to the source of light within.
The heart always holds clues to where clarity may lie. The heart can be likened to the blazing orange sun in smoke filled skies. It may reveal messages and important insights that require your attention. Heed your heart’s calling, release any tears that emerge and just like the rain, tears have the power to cleanse any lingering fog of confusion. Clarity, big picture perspectives, and often life-changing solutions appear when one looks to the glowing source within!
It is a beautiful warm sunny evening. A floating solarium with outboard motor awaits its guests. The new owners are treating a handful of people to experience their inaugural excursion to remote islands off the east coast of Vancouver Island. This 2 hour guided tour includes a friendly host, culinary meal and two surprising stops of interest!
The first stop is a small island once used as a dock for commercial working boats. It’s large bay sculpted by Mother Nature is perfect for mooring boats. Beautiful rock cliffs with wild vegetation rise out of the water on either sides of our vessel. Years of ocean waves washing ashore have carved an array of groovy caves, all shapes and sizes! The reflection of sunlight on the rock walls makes it a stunning masterpiece: Mother Nature’s artistry at its best!
Twenty minutes later, we find ourselves moored at another dock. This once private dock was inhabited by a woman who lived alone there for many years. Our trek to the homestead involved a delightful winding dirt path that weaved its way through a magnificent grove of trees and thriving lush greenery. Upon passing an area of ferns and wildflowers was an opening to the other side of the island. Here stood an old wooden cottage with pale grey-brown weathered shingles. Surrounding it was a well-worn deck with weathered picnic table, plant pots and numerous gardening tools splayed around the building. The view from the deck was spectacular with sounds of ocean waves crashing the shore below. Further round the bend was a tiny guest house with bunk beds and another building resembling an outhouse but the sign outside indicated otherwise. Was it a sauna? A private bathing room? Or maybe a tool shed? Only a small crescent moon shaped window on the door offered any clues, but none of which were distinguishable due to lack of lighting.
The late evening sun directed attention to the last great discovery: a large queen-sized bed perched near the edge of a hilltop leading down towards the ocean. It’s wooden frame and weathered canopy were nestled amidst mother nature’s own bed of luxurious greenery. A surprisingly pristine white cloth covered the queen bed as if to remind us of the sacredness of dream world! This dreamer’s paradise hidden on a remote island is one of the many delightful finds we may come upon when we say YES! to exploring our world! Say YES! to life and life will respond in amazing ways!.