“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~ John Burroughs
“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m doing a 3-part series on signs and symbols that surround all of us because I wanted to open you up the possibility of re-attuning to your environment.
Our lives are very full of distractions; cell phones, long lists of tasks, worries, and a barrage of media. According to CBS News, in the 1970’s we were exposed to about 500 ads a day, but now we are exposed to about 5,000 ads a day. Our lives are flooded with sensory input, people and tasks that pull on our attention so it is no wonder we face an ever-increasing sense of anxiety and overwhelm about our daily lives.
So in the spirit of summer I thought this would be the best time to capture the natural energy available to us in this season – the ability to slow down, connect with the Earth and take a break from our daily routines and in this space I want to discuss how our environment communicates with us if we are attentive enough to listen.
So in this first installment, we will discuss how nature speaks to all of us. In the second installment we will discuss how animals speak to us and in the third installment we will discuss how our pets speak to us. We will take the perspective that all three of these aspects are oracles, always at the ready to help, clarify or inspire if we would only slow down and notice their still, small voice.
How Nature Speaks
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Khalil Gibran
I believe we are all interconnected. And this does not just mean as humans we’re connected, but that we are connected to everything – including plants, animals, rocks – everything! That connection is a form of communication available to us if we can just hear and understand.
However, much of our life is disconnected from the rhythm and language of nature. We are like fish not aware we are in water because we are buried in our cell phones, whizzing by in our cars and going through our life confined in concrete boxes 90% of the day.
The great news is you don’t need any special training or skill to master connecting to the messages in nature, just a willingness to practice and trusting what comes to you. The first step is to ask with an expectation of receiving and then look for an answer.
What to Look For
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein
Nature is a subtle communicator so once you ask a question you must be alert to what you notice. Especially be attentive to repeating patterns, as that is one of the strongest ways nature is able to communicate. Whatever captures your attention is there for you.
I am going to explore three different aspects of how nature can communicate support and guide if you are open to your surroundings. These are examples of what’s possible for you.
The most important thing is to experience fully first. Don’t try to form messages from what you see – just be fully present and enjoy yourself and when you reflect later then what is there for you will have the space to bubble up.
Color: The Language of Vibration
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe
One of the ways you can receive nudges from nature is through color. Colors have symbolic meanings so notice repeating patterns in nature as a sign.
For example, if you see a bouquet of red flowers on someone’s desk and then you go out and a cardinal is sitting on your car and then after dinner you take a walk and see a red vine climbing up a neighbor’s mailbox post then you are being given a sign. Red symbolizes energy, passion and action on one side and anger, aggression and fear on the other.
So maybe you are feeling stuck and nature is telling you to take action. Or perhaps you are feeling angry about a situation and nature is telling you it’s time to transform you anger into action.
Landscapes: The Language of Circumstance
“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” ~ John Lubbock
Another way that nature speaks to you is by the particular landscapes you are attracted to.
For example, beaches are about adapting to unique challenges. Imagine how hard the plant life must work to survive the winds, salt, high temperatures and dryness.
City landscapes are about adaptability and community. Plants have to adapt to foreign environmental constraints to flourish. Cities are about working together to thrive.
Deserts are about ability to harness resources to survive. It takes a special focus and strength to navigate life in the desert so those who have survived there are hardy and tenacious.
Forests are about growing without constrains. Life is abundant and lush in the forest.
So, which landscape are you most attracted to? Are there ones you feel more drawn to at certain points in your life? Your vacation daydreams might just be sending you a message if you’ll tune into it.
Clouds: The Language of Imagination
“I remember just lying in the grass, staring at the clouds, wondering where they drifted off to after they floated over Texas. I never would have imagined that one day I would follow one of those clouds and find myself in Hollywood.” ~ Renee Zellweger
Cloud “readings” are one of the oldest forms of looking for signs and symbols from nature.
Clouds can often look like specific things, like a dragon, which might be saying turn up your imagination, or a dog, which might be telling you to find joy in the simple things. Or clouds could symbolize concepts, like a cloud that looks like forward movement or a plateau.
Let me give you an example from my own life. When I was 16 I was going to the hospital to visit my mother. On the way I saw two clouds that looked just like the Michelangelo painting of God and Man touching fingers. At that moment I knew she had passed away. Sure enough when I arrived at the hospital I was informed that she was no longer alive.
The cloud symbolism not only informed me but it also helped reassure me – the imagery of the connection between us and the Divine helped me process the loss of my mother.
So recapture your childhood and spend some time cloud gazing to see what’s there for you.
You are surrounded by a world that is on your side and wants to help make your life lush and wonderful. Go out and spend some time in nature. Be open to what you see. Use all your senses, listen for what you hear, see what colors jump out at you, look to the sky and see what you see.
Next month we will discuss how animals speak to you as signs and symbols. Until then, please feel free to email or call me with your discoveries of personal signs for your life. Or if you like to write, please comment below and share your experiences there for everyone to enjoy.