Nature is teeming with messages for each of us if we care to tune in. Think of radio waves bouncing around all day that we don’t benefit from until we turn on a radio (traditional or satellite) and tune in to our favorite station.
We can tune in to nature in three different ways:
1. Look for signs that nature is sending directly to us: For example, we woke up from a nap on the couch today and noticed gray “dust” where we had been lying. Amid the dust was a moth (still alive) that must have been on our back when we snoozed (we had been outside all morning). First, we gently brought the moth outside and let it go. Then we wondered what message the moth was sending us.
Two options to learn what moth is trying to tell us: (1) think of obvious facts about moths or consider our own experiences with moths; (2) research moths (we might look at Wikipedia or National Geographic, or Google moth spirit meaning for web sites that help distill for us the moth’s potential message). We can also combine sources.
Once we have moth facts, we can seek to apply the information to current problems we are facing or interpret these facts for inspiration or guidance in our lives.
We researched moth spirit meanings and learned that moths are nocturnal and are drawn to light. While the moon is their source for navigation, we know that moths can get easily distracted by street lights, house lights, etc. Moths, like butterflies, also go through metamorphosis to take their ultimate form and become capable of flight.
What can this mean for us? Don’t get distracted from the bigger goal by impostor goals or tangents. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have fun (fun is important to healing) or take breaks. It means we shouldn’t set our sights too low or make reading the self-help book the goal when our real, near-term goal is to work on healing debilitating shame. It’s easy to make finishing the book the end of the work when the real work starts once we have finished the book and learned steps to healing our shame. We have to take the steps and practice, practice, practice.
2. Find our own signs in nature and make connections to our life: When nature isn’t sending us specific messages, we can go find them. For example, we sat outside and watched our bird feeders yesterday. We noticed a squirrel try repeatedly to scale the bird feeders. The squirrel would climb the pole and then stop at the squirrel baffle (a large, three-foot tall tube installed on the feeder pole to “baffle” the squirrel from being able to scale it), contemplate this obstacle, and give up and retreat. This happened time and time again and occurs year after year after year.
We have seen a few squirrels in the past decade defeat the baffle. The trick is to start running up the pole and not stop until the squirrel has scaled the wide baffle and reached the top. Once atop the baffle, the squirrel can eat its fill.
This got us to thinking about our current obstacles in therapy. Sometimes, we analyze too much–analysis paralysis. We engage in perfectionism, which means we worry about studying “correctly,” practicing new skills “correctly,” spending “enough” time working on our therapy goals. Maybe squirrel was urging us to action: read the self-compassion book we started. Don’t stop at every obstacle and find reasons to give up. The rewards come from completing the goal, not the constant attempts to figure out if we’re doing it right. The birdseed is waiting at the top, so why do we keep stopping at the bottom?
3. If we find ourselves where nature is not abundant, or we aren’t leaving our bed, Medicine Wheel cards can provide us messengers and insight. Medicine Wheel cards are picture cards of animals, and the deck we use (White Eagle Medicine Wheel Deck) has an accompanying interpretive guide, though we can instead/also use steps 1 and 2 above when the deck presents us with a specific animal messenger. We tend not to pick a new card until we feel we have fulfilled the intention or opportunity presented by the last card–or until the universe informs us it is time to select a new card.
Side benefits to all three actions are the presence and mindfulness that accompany observing nature, the joy of appreciating the life forces around us, and connectedness to a special energy moving through the universe of which we are a vital part.