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Making Friends With Nature

finding solid ground Sep 05, 2022

So I’ve recently started a vegetable garden (with a lot of help)! I’ve never been particularly green fingered or even that interested in plants but 6 months ago I noticed that there was an area of our garden that was a total mess and I had this hair brained idea that it would be a good thing to grow some veggies!

“It’s a lot of work” I was told.

“Watch out for the badgers and foxes - they will steal it all”!

Well some of this has been true. I’ve lost a lot of strawberries to birds and the broccoli is very sorry for itself - the victim of slugs that must be very well fed but I’ve never actually seen! The badgers can’t be bothered though and it’s been less work for me than I thought because, like I said, I’ve had a lot of help!

I’ve loved seeing food grow naturally fed by just soil, the sun and water. But I’ve been surprised by a few things:

  1. The green beans that we buy from the supermarket often don’t start out green! In fact they are often purpley/brown and they only turn green after being blanched or cooked!
  2. Cucumbers are spiky!! When I first saw them I thought it was the kind of cucumber that I had grown, and they seemed somehow abnormal, but a quick Google search showed me that this was actually quite normal. The cucumbers that we buy from the store have usually had the spikes removed giving them the appearance we see when they are on the shelf.
  3. Every time I or the family eat something I’ve grown I’m terrified it’s going to poison us! Isn’t that weird? I’ve grown these vegetables completely naturally and they have all tasted so fresh (particularly the potatoes) and yet because I’ve grown them and I’ve not bought them from a store I somehow distrust that they are safe or edible. It’s like I’ve forgotten that humans have been doing this for thousands of years and I’ve got this weird idea that the only safe way to get my food supply is from the supermarket.

Noticing these anomalies has really made me realise, once again, how much of my own personal journey is about recalibrating, and befriending, what’s natural and normal.

Other examples of this that I have seen are:

Society’s idea of mental health.

I’ve been ‘diagnosed’ with depression and anxiety in the past and a big part of my own journey was doing everything I could to try and combat these intense feelings. It never really worked and in fact the diagnosis seemed to make things worse because it caused me to become vigilant for how I felt and I ended up now fighting against these feelings. My breakthrough came about as a result of a number of insights, but a key one was realising that mental health is not the absence of certain emotions or feelings and that something isn’t wrong if I am not feeling happy all the time. Feelings are also not a barometer for how I am doing in my life. They are simply data about the endless stream of thinking that goes through my mind. I don’t need to fight that or fix my life once I realise the transient and subjective nature of my experience.

My worth or value does not come from what I do.

We live in a world that seems to encourage valuing our worth by what we ‘do’. This is so strongly conditioned into us that if we find ourselves ‘not doing’ we can perceive something is wrong and quickly begin to try and troubleshoot and work out what we ‘should’ be doing to try and alleviate the discomfort. This rarely delivers useful insight in my experience and only seems to cause a lot of discomfort whilst we try and work out what’s supposedly wrong. Perhaps the only ‘relief’ we get from this activity is if someone then points out that we aren’t doing something at least we can say that we are trying to figure it out!!

I used to do this all the time, and this only changed for me as I began to be aware of the fact that the peace that I was seeking by ‘trying to be valuable’ and ‘do’ things was my inherent nature, hidden in plain sight underneath all my thinking and figuring out. It was further deepened when I saw that the movement to ‘do’ things did not come from my thinking, rather it was a by-product of a deeper intelligence than my rational mind.

What is this deeper intelligence? Well for me it’s our real ‘Self’. You can begin to grow your awareness of it by noticing the things that are happening in your body totally naturally without you thinking about them. That intelligence is moving us through life from what I can see - as a moment to moment knowing of what to do and when to do it. Moreover, as we become more alive to the fact that nothing is going to make us worthy, what we do seems to be infused by a different energy - one of less attachment and more inspiration and authenticity. I’m constantly in pleasant surprise at the magic and abundance of how things manifest when we come from that place. When I forget and become attached - which still happens to me - it’s kind of not a surprise when things feels stressful and don’t really go anywhere.

As with my insight with the vegetable patch, with each insight into what actually seems to be ‘normal’ there has been a bumping up against my societal conditioning, usually with an incredulous - “What - my conditioning was wrong”? When that happens, I’ve had to be willing to look anew and be willing to let go of what I’ve been taught in favour of seeing something that is more aligned with what actually seems to be normal. I’ve had to make friends with nature if you like. As I have, there always seems to be rewards. In the cases above, I’ve now got fresh veggies which haven’t poisoned us (!), a greater degree of mental health that seems far more in alignment with how we are wired, and I’m a lot less stressed for realising that I am never getting to a place where I am worthy or peaceful. I simply am peace, as are you. It’s where we start…

But I am somewhat surprised at how much of what I thought was normal and natural is actually not so. It seems to be a theme for me as I continue to question and explore the nature of things. It’s like a peeling away of layers to reveal more and more of what’s true. This can be unsettling (very) when it first happens. I think what helps is realising what I shared above - that it’s okay to feel unsettled, and that peace is innate. This seems to allow us to be with the discomfort as we continue to see through our conditioning, and allows our own inner source of knowing to kick in and shows us our own ‘truth’.

With love,

John x

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