It was a skin-scalding hot day in July of this year, and I was having lunch with my yoga teacher. As we sat eating at a local Asian restaurant, I began sharing one of my deepest heart desires to move to the mountains and live in the forest, by water, in the cooler weather, and in a smaller town.
Really short back story: The desert has never felt like home. The arid dry air, the dust and dirt that covers everything. The sweltering heat that makes my body go into internal inflammation…
…all that said and I continue to choose to live here. Going on 17+ years. Clearly there is something my soul is still needing to do here for now.
My teacher proceeded to ask me what it was about the forest that I loved so much. I went on to share that when I am up there I feel at peace. It feels like home. My body relaxes, my tension melts away. My breath feels more spacious and calm.
I feel a deeper connection to the Earth and to the beings around me. I feel an understanding of the Oneness of Nature and how we as humans are just as much a part of that Oneness as every living being and nonliving form on this planet.
I feel more connected to my Self in the woods than in any other geographic region. I feel a longing to return there and just be.
Then she said something that made my heart skip a beat and my breath stop.
“Kate, here is what I want you to do. Bring the forest home.”
My mind fell blank. This statement hit like a ton of bricks.
“Bring the forest home. Meditate on the forest and invite those feelings to come home within you.”
I am paraphrasing now but she went on to say something along the lines of how I am giving my power away to the forest. How I can cultivate those feelings within me at any time and how I can choose to not allow the forest to have the only ability to evoke those emotions and experiences inside me.
As you can imagine my ego had a lot to say about this, and how she could not fully understand what I meant. Giving my power away to the forest? Seriously! That is insane. How could anyone give their power away to something that makes them feel so good and helps them to feel alive?
Just as I found myself wanting to speak out and contest her guidance, something inside me said, “Shhhhh. You know she is right. You just have not been willing to really listen yet.”
Spot on. Ego throwing a tantrum in my head. Awareness alert going off in my mind on full alarm!
I was fully allowing the forest to become my source of joy and not realizing how I had completely given my power of joy to the forest.
It was as if I could only experience pure joy when I was in the forest.
Like I had tucked it hidden away in a tree by a lake and to find it again I would have to go there and visit it but it could never come home with me.
It was only allowed to stay right there.
Where no one could touch it. Where no one could hurt it. Where no one could take it away from me.
Ego exploded. I was the ONLY one taking it away from myself by believing that it was ever something that could be taken away to begin with. By believing that joy is something externally found and not internally manifested.
In what felt like 10 minutes but was actually only a minute or so, my entire perception and stomach did a somersault.
My response, “You are right. I know we have the ability to cultivate and feel however we want to feel at any given moment. I have never applied this practice to my experiences and love of the forest. I certainly never thought I was giving my power away to the forest. I understand how I allowed the forest to take control of my joy and peace and it is now time to reclaim it.”
She smiled her beautiful, humble, rock star goddess smile. The smile that says, “Yes, I know. and I am glad that you now know too.”
For the past 4 months I have been meditating on bringing the forest home.
I imagine myself in the woods on a mid-Fall day, sitting by the water’s edge, listening to the sounds of the birds, the whistling of the wind in the breeze, the subtle sounds of the insects and animals, feeling the cool, crisp air and smelling what to me is a combination of wildflowers and heaven. The leaves are all a rainbow of colors from red to orange, golden to green, some plum and brown. Tall evergreens with the smell of pine permeating all around. Each breeze delivering its own sacred scent and experience. The warmth of the sun glows on my skin and all my senses heighten at the connection to the Divine within my heart knowing it is the same as the Divine within the Earth.
I sit and find myself fading in and out of this experience. At times it is very vivid and I have to remind myself as I come back that it was a meditation. At other times it feels like I am watching myself in a movie and I can see it all happening but the experience it outside of me.
Occasionally I experience it as if it is a scene within my heart and I travel inward to this world within me and I am living this experience into every cell. It is in those moments that I know I have the ability to bring the forest home every day.
I have the power to cultivate peace, ease, calm, happiness and joy at any time, all the time.
I had never recognized that the forest lives within me, and it is when I am there that it is reflected out of me.
If I can find the forest in my heart, then I can feel the forest wherever I go.
Although it may not be the same as physically living in that place, it is a sensational experience that I can connect to at any time. Once I took back my power from the forest, and stood in my truth of emotional cultivation, I knew that one day I will live out my heart’s desire.
In the meantime, I will continue to bring the forest hOMe.
Thank you to my teacher, Mary Bruce, and her brilliant way of illuminating the heart. Namaste.
May you always follow the light that is in your heart.