Remember when the phrase “Leave No Trace” was the catchphrase for any excursion into wildness?
I haven’t heard that one recently. I’m glad of that, because we can’t leave no trace. We can’t “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.”
The idea of “leave no trace” assumed that all we take into nature is our physical selves. We know now that there is much more to our relationship with the world around us. We interact with that world energetically as well as physically, when we are in nature and even when we think of nature.
The power of our energetic connection with all around us has been understood by people who live close to the earth for as long as they remember. They have felt this connection in their relationships with animals, plants, birds, fish, wind, trees, water, other humans—all of the beings who were and are their neighbours.
This is still a new concept for many Western minds, though it is coming into our worldview as well. Scientific studies have demonstrated how lovers’ heartbeats and breathing synchronize. The heartbeats of strangers who work together on a task requiring trust do the same. Pets will even synchronize the patterns of their heartbeats with their humans’ heartbeats, despite the differences in pulse rates!
Years ago, I saw a research report describing another synchronizing effect. Small pieces of living tissue were taken from different hearts and placed in separate Petri dishes. After a short period of time their pulsations synchronized until they were beating together, as if they were part of the same heart. Again and again, tissues from different animals communicated somehow and began beating together.
This is clear confirmation that our energy interacts with the energy of the world around us, including so much other than human intelligence.
The interaction is mutual—the natural world affects us as well. The benefits of going into nature are well documented. The practice of forest bathing is becoming increasingly popular as a therapeutic practice.
When we go into nature, we become part of a landscape that is both physical and energetic. We can’t leave nothing but footprints, nor can we take nothing but photos. If we go angry into nature, or even in an oblivious “in my head” state of consciousness, nature responds accordingly. Birds disappear, animals hide or flee, even plants lean away.
If we go into wildness in a state of peace, nature reciprocates. Plants lean in. Birds land on us or sing for us. Animals walk near unconcerned.
So let’s go. From nature we will take her gifts of health and peace, and to nature we will leave our gifts of gratitude and respect.
April 5, 2021; originally published March 2019