Offering Gratitude with Sticks and Stones (7/10/22)
Do you have a favorite place to simply sit and be outdoors? In our Mindful Outdoor Guide training, we returned to the same place each day and simply sat with our senses open to notice what was around us. This was called our "sit spot".
It's amazing the details that you start to notice. And after a short time of being still, the more-than-human world starts to come alive again. A sit spot is a window into the magnificent natural world that is always around us if we stop to notice long enough.
When our time at the training came to a close, we were given the opportunity to say goodbye to our sit spot. We were invited to share about our experience afterward, and it was beautiful to hear the emotions that came up after spending just a week getting to know one small piece of earth. There was a lot of gratitude for the calm, the grounding, and the healing (yes,healing) that was received.
When I left my sit spot that day, I had tears as well. They came after a realization of a metaphor in my surroundings for what had been happening in my life. I had originally chosen a spot quickly that felt very safe and cozy, but I hadn't realized how much my view was blocked by a fallen tree that helped create that safe space.
Frustrated by my spot and feeling off in it for several days, I decided to move on our last day. (Something we weren't really supposed to do.) That decision, moving just one tree a few feet away, opened up a whole new view. Getting out of my comfort zone and following my gut allowed for an incredible final sit spot. And that experience seemed to mirror the path that I was on in my life - getting out of my comfort zone and being greeted by possibilities I hadn't imagined before.
I left a mandala at my original sit spot to give thanks for what it had given and taught me. This is an idea that I had read about in Micah Mortali's book "Rewilding". To create a mandala, you can use anything that is lying around to create a piece of art as a gift of gratitude to the place that you have visited. It is now one of my favorite practices. Below is a photo of the mandala that I left as a thank you on the shore of Lake Superior this weekend.
I invite you to take a few mindful moments in nature. Maybe find a spot in your yard and just get still. Allow the world around you to come to life and just witness it. Be a part of the magic by simply being present. Notice what comes up for you.
When you are done, if you feel moved to do so, see if anything is lying around that you can use to create a small thank you. It can be twigs, rocks, lawn clippings, ...anything. Try not to overthink it and let your heart place the pieces in a way that feels good to you.
I would love to hear if you try this practice. :)