Embodying Interbeing.

Earlier this week, I wrote about ‘Interbeing’, the understanding that life is inherently relational, where the existence of one draws from the existence of all. It is my belief that embracing interbeing is the paradigm shift we need to address the challenges of our times and ultimately create a more harmonious and balanced world.

Realising Interbeing involves renewing our sense of integration with the web of relationships that sustain life. It is an embodied state beyond the intellect.

One entry point into this felt experience of connection is mindful immersion in nature. A slow, attentive walk through the forest invites us to disconnect from the modern edifices of separation and reconnect to the pulsing web of life.

Moving attentively through the forest, our breath slows. We inhale the medicines released by trees, musky and sweet in aroma. The soft earth yields underfoot. Patterns of sunlight dapple through the canopy above. A wren sings from the undergrowth. The rhythms of our body begin to resonate with the natural rhythms around us.

Using the channel of the senses, we arrive into presence. In this state of awareness, we witness the interweaving of the community around us. The hard lines that delineate organisms blur and fade. Is that being over there a big maple leaf or a thriving community that includes ferns, mosses, lichens and micro-organisms?

Attendance to the intricacies and beauty of the world gives rise to feelings of wonder and awe. These are the emotional gateways to Interbeing.  Wonder is kindled when we are inspired by that which we are yet to understand. It pierces through the numbness that often accompanies modern life, reinvigorating us.

Wonder opens us to awe, our emotional response to the presence of a vastness that defies our comprehension. Awe grounds us in humility as we are reminded of the great mystery beyond our thin veil of control.  It diminishes our egos by repositioning our view of ourselves within a larger frame of reference. The pervading sense we carry of being an individuated person gives way to a sense of connection and merging with something larger.

It is interesting then that studies have found that the experience of awe leads to pro-social behaviour.  The lead researcher in a 2015 study on the effects of awe, Dr Paul Piff, PhD, noted that “our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.”

In this way, the awe and wonder that naturally accompanies a mindful soujourn in the forest initiates us into a felt sense of Interbeing and connection.

Invitation of the Day

Visit a natural landscape in your area – it could be a forest, a park or even your garden. Find a comfortable space where you can be still. Let your attention drift around the space and notice what sights draw you in. Take in all the details, any movement, shapes, textures, colours. What do you notice?

Register here to attend Saturday’s Community Forest Therapy walk:


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