I like to use nature to get to what is really going on with me, because it is the opposite of and the antidote to cultural conditioning. Cultural conditioning is what you grew up within your family of origin. It includes expectations that were handed to you by the overculture – school, church, commercials, peer group, etc. Our response to this pressure to conform and these very powerful multi-generational messages is operating in the unconscious, but it is repressed. That means that it has been stored away so that we can perform everyday tasks and meet the demands of our families, jobs and the overculture.
You know that your unconscious is getting stirred up when you have the following:
- Nightmares – Nightmares indicate that your unconscious is upset and trying to process something that does not feel right.
- Emotional funk. Anger, sadness, fears, all feelings really are there to help us wake up.
- Obsessiveness. This is the way the mind tries to “help” us not feel the pain and suffering that is below the surface.
- Need to control, manage or fix people, places or things. This is the inner two year old saying that if everybody would just do everything the way I say, then I’ll feel okay.
- Accidents. There are no accidents.
- Addictions and compulsions. Substances, sex, food, habits, behaviors used to self medicate the pain away.
These are all indicators that your unconscious is trying to get your attention. It wants you to pay attention because there is something that is just not right. Your body-being knows the truth of who you really are – a beautiful, loving and radiant being. However, you may have gotten the opposite impression growing up. You may have heard quite the opposite of that from parents, teachers and religious personages. Or you may have picked up the vibration of some core deficiency in your character along the way. Basically, it is that voice that tells you that you are not smart, patient, loving, helpful, hardworking, kind, or contained enough. Or you are too much – too loud, aggressive, lazy, outspoken, emotional, negative, needy, greedy, sinful, gluttonous, or sexual.
Anyway, nature offers us a fresh look at ourselves from our more natural, animalistic, instinctual, spontaneous, expressive, connected self. Nature has the capacity to offer us a direct line to our basic true selves, although we may have to use a different part of our brain that is more receptive to the information – our metaphorical mind.
I was walking with a client in nature once, encouraging this person to stop talking about his story, and, instead, pay attention and just notice whatever he noticed. Just then a flock of seagulls squawked and flapped all around us. He was somewhat perturbed because he was expecting something a little more delicate. He questioned my premise that nature offered a connection, for surely this intrusion was clearly just a distraction. The further we investigated the gift from the natural world, the more he started to realize that the experience was similar to the flock of thoughts that tend to inundate his mind every time he attempts to get quiet and get to know himself – to get close to himself.
It wasn’t nature that was distracting him. It was nature that was reminding him of his own tendency to distract himself from experiencing himself, and what was really going on – his feelings, his inner voice and knowingness.