Based on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, Sparkles and Dirt is a blog by Louise Brunet. Her posts explore the beauty and the struggles we all encounter and how we can, just maybe, show up for all of it with compassion and grace.

To Lose Our Minds

To Lose Our Minds

Into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul
— John Muir
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I’ve seen the whole world in a tree. Felt the heartbeat of the universe. I’ve experienced enduring strength, noble stillness, and the quiet wisdom of time. Not as if someone was telling me about something their friend’s friend did, but from within myself. I feel from the trees through all the cells in my body and all of my own life energy so that I feel as they do.

When we connect through spirit, the tree and I, it’s as though time stops, everything gets quiet and a door opens onto a sacred beauty that is right in front of us every day but is so easy to miss. If we open to it, trees share their life energy and their wisdom with us.

I’ve seen the whole world in one tree. Immersed in complete presence with them, I share their vast consciousness extending out around the world at once. It’s a real trip to feel the network of energy all over the world connected as one.

I haven’t always been aware of the forest this way. The trees have been a source of fun and beauty since I was a kid playing out adventures up in their branches. At the time I wasn’t fully aware of how deeply connected we were. I knew I was in love with them an felt a sense of peace with them, but I didn’t know that they were in love with me right back.

I want to share a story with you of one particular day when the forest decided it was time for me to expand my awareness to see more.

A few years ago, I was walking my dog along a trail in the forest near my home. It was a typical busy day for a working mom. I felt rushed. I had to get back to work and then get home for my kids and dinner. I trudged along the path carrying all of my “to do’s” on a repeat loop in my head. I loved being in the forest and headed there on purpose, but on that day I distracted. Nala was bouncing along somewhere up ahead. I was lost in thought.

Then I rounded a bend in the path and looked up to see a big old oak tree. It struck me as particularly majestic. I had walked past that tree so many times before. In that moment it caught my attention and stopped me on the path. I stood still looking at it. I noticed the ridged bark, how the branches reached out, but also so much more than that.

Nala came running back on the trail toward me as if to say – “We stopped?!”

I looked at her and said in a hushed voice – “Look at this! It’s so beautiful!” I didn’t dare speak any louder in the presence of such powerful beauty.

I became immersed in the scene of thriving life all around me. I felt a presence within me. The oak was a way in; without realizing it I had stepped into a whole new world.

I felt peace; I was in awe at what I suddenly sensed all around me and within me. The forest and I blended into one. I didn’t know where I ended and the forest began. I felt breathing in my chest and heard the wind at the same time; I felt my feet on the ground and the ground itself that I was standing on. I actually experienced the tree from within the tree. I was the tree, I was the wind, I was the ground that I stood on.

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I had heard trees before in whispers and felt energy from them at different times, but this was the heart and soul of the forest grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me and saying –

HEY! I’m right here. Deep in your heart. Feel this.

From that moment of expanded awareness the forest has been a very different experience for me. Since that day, the trees have offered me many teachings; they guide me and always answer when I call on them. They’ve interrupted my mind chatter on many walks. Waving a flag at me and saying Remember? Right here. They graciously draw me out of my head and into my heart and spirit, often with gentle guidance for whatever is weighing on me at the time.

They’ve soothed my heart on days when I couldn’t seem to stop the tears from flowing; they’ve shared energy with me at times when I felt too exhausted to give them any back. They share their presence. I sometimes sing to the trees to offer them my gratitude and share my love in return. Trees like to listen to singing and music.

There’s plenty of science around the benefits of walking in nature. It lowers stress hormones within minutes for example. We walk on a trail with a friend (furry or human) or by ourselves. We know how to appreciate nature, seeing it outside of us, separate from us. We benefit on a physiological level from this kind of experience.

And yet standing in the middle of the forest and feeling separate from it is like going to a live concert of your favourite band and staying in the car in the parking lot outside the venue listening to it on the radio. You can say you went to the concert, but did you experience it? Did you live it? Did you feel it?

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You could go to the concert and stand in the front row, music pounding in your chest. You could jump up and down to the beat along with the crowd, all in love at the same time with the same music. You could feel the sweat on your face and cry through the saddest song holding onto someone you didn’t know an hour before, connected to everyone in the crowd and to the band as one.

You went to the concert! You shared an experience and came out of it feeling changed. You were a part of something special. You will talk about it for years. You experienced something on a another level from ‘just the music.’ (and isn’t that the whole point of art? The experience is there for us to open to and allow ourselves to be changed by it.)

What if you could be in the forest and feel it’s soul? What if you could connect on a level with the forest so that you are in a space of absolute peace. Not the idea of peace, but an energy shifting peace you feel deep in your heart and the cells of your body. So that your mind chatter suspends and melts away without you needing to try hard or work at it.

I was the tree, I was the wind, I was the ground that I stood on.
— Louise

What if you could expand your awareness to feel the trees as the sentient beings they are, the same as all living beings, with a spirit, a consciousness, wisdom and love to share? What if you allowed yourself to be changed by it?

And what if by connecting this way you get to actually connect more deeply with all the beauty within you. What if you get to feel the heartbeat of the universe for one blissful moment?!

The choice is ours – See the concert or be changed by it. The parking lot or the front row?

Going Home

Going Home

You want me to what?

You want me to what?