BLOG: Drawing From Nature

DAY 1, 2014

Morning:
8:00 a.m. A clear June morning. We start out into the forest.
A day of detoxification. A day to forget multi-tasking.
We leave cell phones and watches behind. I give them each, in case they get anxious, an emergency whistle instead.
Temple Grandin, points out how words overshadow visual acuity, and lead to schemas or models in our minds that we then apply to the world, rather than experiencing thru our senses and then organizing them.  SO VERY VERY LITTLE TALK on this first day.
So today we’ll try to do as little naming as possible. We’re going to take a long walk so that the chatter and distractions of our every day world get worn away, and we can become open to other subtler patterns and rhythms.
All along this trail there are signs and tracks left by beings. I don’t expect you to know this, and I don’t expect you to know how to recognize the signs they’ve left. I just want you to be open to recognizing something that may appear to you from time to time today and tomorrow.
As we walk, let’s talk as little as possible. I may stop along the way to point something out, but that will be about all. As we walk listen to your breath, your foot fall, your heart rate, the air on your skin. Don’t linger on thoughts, don’t hold onto them. Just let them come and go - like a fly bothering you.
What I want you to do is to be open to patterns and rhythms (both inside and outside). Don’t look for them. Relax into the rhythm of your walking and gazing, touching and smelling and sensing and feeling.
Why patterns and rhythms? Because they are not “things.” They don’t have names. They are relationships. And relationship is what communication is grounded in and springs from and depends upon. No relationship - no communication.
The “trick” will be to look for them inside at the same time you are looking outside. This can be confusing and unmooring. All I can tell you is that with time and practice, it becomes easier, more comfortable, and even relaxing and freeing from all the “ought too’s” in our lives.

Some poems to read along the way on this first day:
Lost, by David Wagoner
"Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you. "

            LESSON #1: HOW TO LISTEN TO A BIRD SING
            Take off all
            your clothed and
            clammy thoughts.
            Sit awhile.
            Make nothing up
            between the intervals of silence,
            but listen to them.
            Between each breath
            is a song you’ve forgotten,
            is always calling us
            to gather to this wild
            and shocking world.
            This music happens to us
            before we can ever think about it
            this song happens in us
            before we can ever say it’s impossible
            to listen before we speak
            of nothing or everything.
            ©Laurence Holden, 2010


                FACES
                    - for Rob
                All things show their faces when we do.
                All things speak when we do.
                All things appear when we do.
                The first face, the first word,
                they blossom into all the others.
                They all are true.
               ©Laurence Holden, 2010

We stop in the forest where there seems to be a sense of place here.

Layers of Attention:
Go to a place that attracts you. sit. Ask permission to be there, to know and be known.
With soft eyes, gaze around the whole place to see its boundaries. Now close your eyes and in your mind’s eye gaze around this space, noting what you see. Now open your eyes and confirm what you saw. Now look around again with eyes open and take in more or different aspects. Close your eyes again and see that in your mind’s eye. Repeat several times. Notice how the patterns change each time.

 

At the end thank this place for letting you know it and be known.

Nature as Guide:
Go to a place that attracts you. Sit. Ask respectful permission to be there, to know and be known by this place. Now look around you with soft eyes. Go to the first thing that attracts you. Say hello - not silently but out loud. Touch it for one full minute. Pull on it gently, but not enough to hurt or disturb it. Note what thoughts and feelings come to mind during the time you are in this relationship. Thank it for allowing you to touch it and to be with it. Gaze around you and go to the next object that immediately attracts you. Do the same thing, touch it, pull on it gently. Thank it. Note again what thoughts and feelings you have. Then go to the next thing that attracts you.


Sensory Guided Nature Walk:
find a place. Ask permission to be there, to know and be known.
We are trained to be conscious of the world thru
1. sight
2. language
3. reason
we miss a lot this way. Divide into pairs. One person will be the sighted guide who will hold your hand and introduce you gently and safely to this place, the other will be blind. For 5 minutes be led carefully by the guide to sense, touch, feel, taste, hear, smell, roll in, crawl thru, hug things the guide finds attracts them. Occasionally the guide can focus your closed eyes on natural attractions she sees. She can signal you to open your eyes only for a second by squeezing your shoulder and then releasing it to signal you to close your eyes again.


After five minutes, switch roles. Afterwards we discuss the different experiences of leading, and being led, and what you were each drawn to.
When finished thank this place and the things you were granted to see.

 

Julie & Hilary

Lunch:
We stop for lunch atop Rainy Mountain. We rest, lay on our backs and watch the tree tops sway in the afternoon wind, and then we discuss the patterns and rhythms that have attracted each of us along the way. We have all followed the same path, but it has been a different path of experience for each of us. We discuss why this might be.


Afternoon:
We retrace our path, and see everything from the "other side" going back down the path.
We stop in a place that attracts us beside a gurgling branch.

Seeing Through Words:
The natural world, including our own inner nature, contains attractions that hold it together and sustain it in balance. We are drawn to these meanings.
We are not lost here:
            "Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
            Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
            And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
            Must ask permission to know it and be known.
            The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
            I have made this place around you,
            If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
            No two trees are the same to Raven.
            No two branches are the same to Wren.
            If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
            You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
            Where you are. You must let it find you. "
                        “Lost,” by David Waggoner

Find a place that attracts you. Sit awhile. let your eyes scan the surroundings with soft eyes. look carefully around for signals of danger (bees, poison ivy, thorns, etc.). imagine you are meeting some one for the first time. say hello in a respectful manner. ask “how are you?” “It’s nice to meet you.” Ask it’s permission to be with it. remember Wagoner’s poem “Lost” “you must treat it as a powerful stranger. must task permission to know it and be known - the forest breathes. listen. it answers.
jot down two or three of your immediate experiences/impressions of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste: look for the strongest verbs you can find. write large and leave space between your lines. Your first thoughts are usually the most direct - so try to catch them before you think about them. Your thoughts afterwards are usually fraught with your thoughts about your thoughts.


SIGHT:
1.
2.
3.
SOUND
1.
2.
3.
SMELL:
1.
2.
3.
TOUCH:
1.
2.
3.
TASTE:
1.
2.
3.
IMAGINE:
1.
2.
3.
Basho:
“Go to pine if you want to learn from pine.
Go to bamboo if you want to learn about bamboo.
And in doing so, leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself.
Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn.
Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one
when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something hidden, glimmering there.
However well phrased your poetry may be, your feeling is not natural - if the object and yourself are separate - then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.”


Every one gathers together again and we look over our phrases and sentences.
We edit it so that:
-all the verbs are action verbs
- we make the phrases specific,  change “I think” to what it IS you think.
- we make the phrases in the present tense: “I am touching now” “the bird sings”


Have each participant pick out the strongest, most direct phrase from each sense (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) and draw a circle around it.
We gather in a circle standing, and read in a “round” one of our statements in this order:
First person:- sight
second person: - sound
third person - smell
fourth person--touch
fifth person- taste.
sixth person - imagine
seventh person - sight
seventh - sound
and so on, around and round.


And this way we make a group poem celebrating this place now and our being here.
We finish by gazing about this place and giving thanks for knowing it and being known by it.