by Daniel Kieval
I have a friend who reads people's auras. He sees all sorts of colors like green & red & purple. He says anyone can do it. All it takes is forgetting everything you think you know & just looking. I've tried it & even though I haven't seen any colors yet, everyone I meet looks so beautiful when I stop knowing everything, that it's pretty hard to go back to the old way.
“Beautiful People” by Brian Andreas
Such is the mysterious beauty of our world that when we observe any part of it deeply we have no choice but to fall in love.
Many naturalists and nature educators will say that the best way to develop a connection with the Earth is to practice what is called a “Sit Spot.” Here’s how it works: Choose one place in the world and spend time there daily, at all times of day and night, in all weather, in all seasons. In your spot, sit in silence and focus fully on the world around you. As you learn to quiet your mind and let go of everything you think you know, you become open to receiving what nature is presenting to you in that moment. Over time you gain a deep sense of the patterns of life around your Sit Spot and, just maybe, you fall in love.
A personal connection with Earth is not something new we have to acquire. Every one of us has carried it in our bodies since the firstAdam (human) was formed from the Adam-ah (earth). By turning all of our awareness to nature’s gifts, we come home again to that relationship which we’ve had all along.
In Elul, we focus on the process of teshuva – returning, coming home – through personal reflection and examination. What the Sit Spot is to the Earth, teshuva is to our own souls. We visit our “Sit Spot of the Self” daily; we see what it’s like there in all weather and moods. We let go of what we think we know about ourselves and instead we quiet down and listen. We discover the subtle beauties of our inner ecology.
Our souls, like the Earth, have always been there waiting for us, but we lose touch with them as the clutter of everyday life fills up our heads. In Elul we visit our souls with devotion until we fall in love with ourselves again. That is what it means to do teshuva: to come back to our pure essential nature that is as unspoiled and good and true as every other primordial piece of Creation. Only after we’ve done this are we ready to face the infinite on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Spend time with yourself this Elul. Be quiet. Be curious. Be present. Let go of judgment and observe openly and honestly. In so doing, may you come home again to a loving relationship with the created Earth and your own perfect soul.
Daniel Kieval works as a Jewish environmental educator with Teva, a program of Hazon/Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.