Wisdom Training

Practice in nature

Introduction

I was planning to write a post about friendship, but my recent experiences motivated me to change the topic and, instead, write about the resting mind practices in nature, more specifically the ancient forest called Forrest des Loges. I wrote earlier about practicing in nature, but it was only mentioned as one of several possibilities. Now I will dedicate to it the whole post.

By nature, I mean places where human intervention is reduced to a  reasonable minimum, like forests or wild meadows or even patks not polluted by commercialism. In this case, it is only a tiny fragment primeval forest which grew in this area for several thousand years after the last glacier finally retreated, and the present flora began to develop. The Forrest de Loge belonged to several Freench aristocratic families, but now it is owned by the local departmental government and open to the public. It was partially destroyed during the French Revolutions when the most massive trees were cut to build the Republic’s navy. But since it took place over 200 years ago, the trees grew back, and by now, the forest is truly magnificent. 

I went for a few walks with my wife and our dog, and while they went much further, I installed myself on one of the few benches facing a little lake, in the shadow of large oak trees and began to practice. 

What was so special?

From the moment I sat down, my mind experienced an instant sense of rest.  To describe this state, I will use an analogy of resting physically. It does not mean that we stay immovable like a solid concrete block when we rest that way. Our hearts beat, we breathe, trillions of cells of our body are busy doing their proper activities, etc.  Instead, it means that we are not doing anything that is not needed at the moment. Similarly, with our mind, resting means that we are not involved in ongoing thinking, usually recalling our past, fantasizing about our future or thinking about objects on which we focused our perceptions. 

Such was my state of mind when I was sitting on the bench in the forest de Loge. Everything was clear, vivid, lucid, and I would dare to say, delightful. Unfortunately, there ware no insects, no butterflies, dragonflies, not even mosquito. They seem to be eliminated by insecticides sprayed all over. 

Of course, the thoughts kept arising, but as soon as became aware of its presence, it immediately blended into the state of rest, making it even more vivid and clear. These experiences were very similar to the usual ones happening during the mind resting practice elsewhere. But, in the forest, the experiences were more vivid and accompanied by a clear sense of easiness and interconnection with the surrounding nature.  With unusual intensity, I also felt the energy of the presence of the power of surrounding me immense woods. I would even dare to say, I experienced some kind of communication. 

A few days later, I went to the same Lodge forest but, by mistake, ended up on a similar bench overlooking a different pond. However, here the aquatic life was in full swing: frogs croaking and jumping, and even fish was occasionally jumping out. Also, the various birds kept me company: particularly doves were cooing. But still, there were no insects, so only insecticides that are to blame for this devastation.

But these extra activities around have not influenced experiences associated with my earlier session of mind resting: the lucidity, easiness and intense sense of energy and communication with the surrounding environment were present.

Dear reader, please, believe me, I am not a new age born again tree hugger. I am rather a hardcore, skeptical scientist who, at the end of the 86 years long day, despite many efforts, was not able to adhere to any spiritual and rother exotic beliefs. 

The energy of communication, in general, has nothing to do with any religious spirituality. It is a physical phenomenon, and the potential communication within plants is not an exception. There is an abundance of proper research describing this phenomenon

n. Also, there is already some research dealing with the intelligence of plants. But what I was experiencing does quite fit in any of the presented approaches.

So I will produce below my own, totally unconfirmed but, but hopefully interesting hypothesis.

Resting of mind and plants

It sounds rather outlandish to postulate that trees and I established some form of communication. Of course, we are aware of their presence using our usual perceptual mechanism: we see them, occasionally smell, hear winds rustling their leaves and branches and, during the hot weather, feel the coolness of their shade. Our thoughts may attribute them all sorts of esthetic and other more exotic qualities, they may provoke all kinds of emotions, and so on. 

However, it is only one part of communication when we are on the receiving end. A question arises if it is possible that trees can generate some signals, which we are able to receive directly, bypassing our usual sense perceptions.

In order to discover such possibilities, I decided to look at the possibility of receiving some form of the electric signal generated by plants.  It is not as far fetched as it may appear because it is has been discovered the existence of intercellular communication based on electric signals inside plants. There are many research results concerning that phenomenon, and some even propose a mathematical model

As it is well known, any transfer of electricity produces electromagnetic waves that spread throughout the space. Those waves, among many other objects, can reach our body, and particularly our brain. 

So we have part of the question answered positively, yes trees do generate electric signals in the form of waves. But are we able to receive it? 

Unfortunately, here I cannot refer to any, known to me, proper research on such a subject, though some attempts can be found (though one may question their scientific validity). Such electromagnetic waves’ intensity is minuscule, to begin with, and decreases inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source, so our measuring methodologies cannot detect it.

Now I am departing from generally accepted ways we define measuring experiment. The golden rule is that it is based on some measuring equipment such that by using it in a well-defined manner, results are reproducible. Here I am suggesting to use as the measuring apparatus our brain. Why? Because there is no, so far, an apparatus of equivalent sensing capacity. Our brain has around 100 billions of neurons, each of which has about 100 dendrites and a colossal number of microtubules. It is slower but with precessing capacities billion times higher than modern most massive computers. So why ignore such potential possibilities.

But it is not all. Recently, the brain’s model as a network of neurons introduced the middle of the last century becomes supplemented by the wave model. Furthermore, it talks about synchronization, where the wave model is superior to the neuron networks. 

Now I present my hypothesis of why practicing the resting of mind in the big, old forest is so special. One of the resting technique’s fundamental aspects is the substantial reduction of mental noise produced by useless thinking. As practice progress, the intervals between arising thoughts became longer, and we notice that nearly instantly, we become aware that of thinking, what leads to return to the state of rest. Consequently, our mind is more capable of becoming aware of the subtle electromagnetic waves emanate by the trees. They may affect the state of consciousness, causing the unique experiences described above.

I would like to emphasize that it is only a hypothesis, not a theory. To decide if it is worth considering it as theory would require a proper experimental observation brain’s behaviour while practicing the mind rest in different environments.  

Concluding suggestions

It would be very interesting if some you Readers will try such practice yourself and share your experiences. Of course, it does not have to be Forrest las Loges, but any old forest not polluted by stupid Homo Sapiens (it is an oxymoron), who marked their presence by leaving plastic bottles, beer cans, used cartons and so on. It is worth an effort it may require. Who knows, it may change your view on oneself and the world around us.

One thought on “Practice in nature

  1. This resonates with something I’ve been doing: find a “special spot”, in nature, where you can take an “analog walk”, free from electronic/media devices, and let your mind and your senses open. I live in a city, but even in urban areas you can find such spots. I found one such in a corner of a nearby park, just a few blocks away: a micro forest ecology, no more than 120 meters or so long, but enough. The ground is soft as you walk slowly: it is maintained by life. As you stay still there you notice various birds, flying and hopping at different levels of the trees. There is a spontaneity to life in its interdependent play that is deeply affecting.

    One really interesting aspect is that as you relax the centeredness of your holding on to your awareness, it just becomes awareness and perception arising all around. That tree is as much a source of awareness as I am. It is not “my” awareness – I am its artifact as much as that tree. A bit of humility, and true magic.

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