Recently, I spent some time in the Andalucian region of Spain. Surrounded by mountains and olive groves and orchards of orange, lemon and walnut trees, all nestled beneath a canopy of the brightest, clearest skies, it was impossible not to be awestruck by Mother Nature.
I learned a lot too – just from being still and really watching.
Here are five of the key lessons I learned – which I hope are just as applicable to you.
Lesson from the Olive Tree: Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is just be there for another
The first time I came across this tree I felt compelled to sit on the white stone between its roots. As I leaned against the gnarled trunk, nestled between the roots, it felt as if I was being hugged by a giant. I felt so safe and protected by the tree’s presence. And, just knowing that I could rest in its strength, made me think about love and how so often, the most loving thing we can do for another is just be there for them. Not interfere or tell them what to do, or what we would do if we were them, just be there and really listen so that they can soak up our strength. I realised that I need to be more like this in my own relationships with my loved-ones – not race to try and fix things all the time but be strong and still for them so they can find their own way.
Lesson from the Flower: Authenticity is beautiful and requires no effort
Spring had just arrived in Spain and the first splashes of colour from the flowers were a beautiful contrast to the faded greens and greys of the olive trees. So much of today’s online-based world is phoney and filtered but none of the pictures in this post have been ‘Instagrammed’. They didn’t need to be. When I came across this flower I was struck by its beauty and it led me to make the following jotting in my journal: authenticity is beautiful and it requires no effort. Faking – whether it be in our relationships, work or on our social media – requires a hell of a lot of effort. But when we can let go enough to let our true selves bloom it’s effortless and it’s beautiful.
Lesson from the Rocky Path: When the going gets tough focus on the present
This trail dates back to the middle ages, when merchants would transport their wares via donkey to the remote villages dotted around the mountains. There were places where the path got so narrow and so slippery under foot it was impossible to think of anything other than where you were going to plant your next step. If you got distracted or started gazing off along the trail there was the real danger you would lose your footing and go tumbling over the side. Once again, I was able to see how this lesson from nature could be applied to life. When the going gets tough, stay firmly rooted in the present moment. Don’t worry about what might happen in a day or a week or a month, focus on what’s going on right now. Tackle the present one small, careful step at a time and the future will take care of itself.
Lesson from the Orange: Nature is full of gifts, physical and emotional
There was something so lovely about this picture to me. One solitary orange against the faded background of the olive tree. What a splash it makes! As I stood in front of it, marvelling at its beauty, I thought to myself that it was way too beautiful to pick. There was something so therapeutic about seeing an orange in its natural habitat – as opposed to stuffed in a crate in the supermarket. But then, as I was about to walk away, the orange fell from the tree and landed at my feet with a gentle thud. It was as if the tree was giving it to me as a gift. So I sat down on the grass and ate the orange and it was the sweetest, juiciest orange I’ve ever tasted. The whole experience reminded me that plants and trees don’t just sustain us physically but emotionally too – if we remember to let them!
Lesson from the Mountain Top: The higher you climb, the further you see
One day, we climbed to the top of a mountain to visit a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Many of the world’s spiritual traditions believe that there’s true wisdom to be found at the top of a mountain. Having now experienced it for myself, I can whole-heartedly agree. The silence at the top of the mountain was so thick you could practically slice it and I was instantly overcome by a tremendous sense of peace. As I looked down on the world below I was able to gain a whole new perspective on my life. My so-called problems seemed tiny in comparison to the majesty of the mountains and this was probably the greatest lesson for me. The higher you climb – be it physically or spiritually – the wiser you become and the further you see.
If you’ve been inspired by this post, I challenge you to go to a place of natural beauty close to you – a park, some woodland, the beach, a canal – and soak in the surrounding nature for any lessons it might have for you. Before you set out, think of any issues currently troubling you and ask that you might be guided to find the specific answers you need. (If you do this I would LOVE to hear how you get on in the comments).