Expand Your Awareness

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Dave had me spend an entire day doing nothing but observing from early morning to evening. I had to sit in a field all day long without moving my body - he told me just to move my eyes very slowly from side to side.

What was I observing? What direction is the wind coming from? Does that cloud seem to contain any large amounts of moisture? Is it dark on the underside and light on the top? If so, perhaps its going to rain. If you see birds flying, are they circling or going in a straight line? Are they birds flying to where there might be some water? If you're looking for water, perhaps you should head in that direction.

If you don't think observation is all that hard, try to sit still for twenty minutes. If your nose itches, don't scratch it. If your leg cramps, don't stretch it.

These are some of the things you have to content with in observation. It's a far reaching training that enables you to take in a whole situation in seconds.

There didn't have to be any particular significance to all the things I observed - the point was to not let anything escape my awareness, to master the difference between looking and seeing.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 57, 59


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Three practices make up the nature awareness phase of the Earth path: stillness, focus, and study.

Stillness requires that you slow down to nature's pace. At least once a week, go to a place full of non-human living things, find a place to sit, and spend at least ten minutes sitting still and noticing everything around you. Relax your body, and turn your attention away from the chatter of thoughts and worries that usually fills your mind. Sit still, watch, listen, and feel.

[…] Try to broaden your awareness - notice sounds, scents, wind, light and shadow, changes in the sky and in the distance around you. Let the world fill your mind and guide it.

[let] your field of vision spread out as wide as possible, instead of focusing tightly on something in front of you. Let your eyes soften and take in everything within your field of vision - to left and right, but also above and below.

Focus [...] involves paying close attention to what you encounter. You can learn this by focusing your mind and senses on the details of specific natural things: a stone, the bark of a tree, a handful of dirt, a pool of water, the crumbling end of a fallen log.

[...] Choose something and spend at least five minutes as close to it as possible, with every sense focused on it. Push aside all other concerns; simply look, listen, smell, and feel.

Study is the third step in expanding your awareness of nature.

Almost any source of information about nature can be useful [...] Paying attention to nature takes on new dimensions when you recognize the birds around you, the cloud types above you, or the varieties of stone and soil beneath your feet.

[John Michael Greer]
The Druidry Handbook,  p. 146-8


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