The Peace of Wild Things by Kaspa Thompson
When I sit on the hills and look out at the stunning views good states of mind arise naturally.
When I go out into the deep countryside and look up at the night sky I am awestruck.
To see the arm of the Milky Way stretching through the sky, fine points of light and a soft fog as the many stars blend into one another, is to be reminded of how vast, powerful and wonderful the universe is. Sometimes I get the same sense when I am walking on the hills, when the view appears through a gap in a wooded trail, or when a wildflower greets me from the side of the path.
I am moved to gratitude as I see the natural world continually offering itself to me. The natural beauty of the landscape is mostly the end process of millions of years of geology, biology and evolution. Personally I had very little – if anything – to do with bringing it into being, and yet here it is!
Sometimes I moved to heartbreak too, when I see how little we offer in return, how so often we take the gifts of the natural world for granted, and how our greed damages the global eco-system. This heartbreak feels like a healthy reaction – I am standing witness to how things are, and I am motivated to examine my own relationship to the natural world. Can I use fewer resources? Can I make my own garden wildlife friendly? Can I support the work of those who are engaged in taking care of the world?
There are people deeply engaged in good work, and I am moved to gratitude when I encounter them, or remember them.
Gratitude can also lead me to action, planting more wildflower seeds in the garden, signing up to support the RSPB or local Wildlife Trust, and taking others into the natural world to inspire them as well.
At the end of June I am co-leading a mindfulness walking weekend in the Malvern Hills. We’re being funded by the Area of Natural Beauty Malvern Hills Sustainable Development Fund. Studies have shown that spending time in the natural world is as good as mindfulness meditation for returning the mind to peaceful states. I’m not surprised, given my own experiences.
How many of us make time to get outside? How often do we leave our insulated houses and cars and “come into the peace of wild things”? (As Wendell Berry called it in his wonderful poem)
Take this article as an invitation to find your own peace of wild things; to go out into spaces where nature thrives; to make time to stop and connect with something other than the merry-go-round of modern life.
Every morning I make a pilgrimage around the temple garden: I pay attention to the cow slips (have you seen how many there are on the roadsides this year?); I notice the tadpoles in the pond, and the water boatmen; I try to see if the ferns are any less tightly curled than yesterday; I hear the constant chattering of robins competing for territory.
Go into your own garden. Or get a map of the hills from the tourist information centre and find a new path. Go on your own or take your family and friends. Connect with the natural world, let it move you to better states of mind, and move you to taking care of the world.
The Mindfulness Walking Weekend is 30th June – 1st July. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or http://bit.ly/malvernwalk
Kaspa Thompson is a psychotherapist, mindfulness teacher and Buddhist priest. For info on therapy and mindfulness classes see: www.kaspathompson.co.uk and for his local Buddhist group see: www.amidamandala.com