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Contemplating Flow in Nature

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

This morning I was out walking in the forest and stopped to rest beside a mostly frozen creek running along the boundary of our property. Standing in the late afternoon winter sun, I began thinking about some of the questions I ask students in my 'Contemplative Nature Series.'

Here is the question that came to mind.

Observe 'flow' in the natural world, and write about the characteristics you notice. Then write about how these observations in the natural world might help you better understand how to find a flow state in your body and life?

So I softened my gaze and looked at the creek from all angles. There was an ice jam in the middle but the water was both flowing underneath the ice and near the far bank. Immediately I thought, "Like the water, I need to move sideways in my thinking, I am too focused in one area, and I am jammed up in the details." Then I wondered, "Perhaps I need to go deeper and submerge myself under the thinking mind of the ego, because this is where I reside when feeling uncertain or anxious."

As I listened to the water bubbling under the ice, I imagined myself being carried away. Moving effortlessly through the water, being pulled by the current, and following the path of least resistance. This is what water does, it flows, winding its way to the confluence of rivers or to the sea. Water always flows down and it never rises above its source. There is no uphill climb with water, and unless it is dammed, water will find a way through.

While sitting there contemplating this I started to feel places in my body that were tight, blocking the flow of my thinking, feelings, and self expression. This observation of the flow of water and my relationship to its existence was a doorway into a felt experience of a life river moving through my body. Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes about this in her book - 'Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.'

“Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between-worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts.”

Through this contemplative exercise my connection deepened for this sacred life force we call water. About 70 percent of the human body is made up of water and, coincidentally, more than 70 percent of Earth is covered in water. We mirror one another. Humans are intended to be fluid like the rivers and oceans. Breath moving through our bodies, blood circulating through our veins, feelings surfacing, voice expressing, and dreams emerging. When flow is interupted by trauma or difficult life transitions, the fluidity of flow becomes blocked like the ice jam in the creek.

We must find creative ways to access the Rio Abajo Rio. The natural world and its elements like water have a great deal to teach us about finding our way back to the source of flow.


If you are yearning for a fun and creative way to recover from pandemic fatigue, and restore your sense of well-being in the world join us for The Forest Studio's:

'The Art of Mindful Photography'

March 6 - March 27, 2022

Sunday mornings - (10 am - 12 pm) PST

4 Week Online 'Live' Course, along with time in nature.

Cost: $150

Learn to:

☀️Work with soft and natural light to calm your mind, find stillness, and follow your imagination

☀️Immerse yourself in colours and textures to awaken your senses

☀️Reconnect to the natural world to find beauty and goodness all around you

Facilitated by Rachel Schmidt.

Learn more and register here: