Last month, I had one of the best weeks of my life on an “SDI Journey” which took place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The facilitators, Matt Whitney and I (Jeanette Banashak), in addition to sacred musician, Simon de Voil, spent a week forest bathing with an amazing group from North America and Europe. The ages of participants were vast as were their worldviews, stories, and questions.
Throughout the week, we experienced winter, spring, and summer weather, and through the variety of temperatures, we slowly, gently, and mindfully walked and built relationships and fostered reciprocity with the more than human world. As we attuned to nature in embodied ways, we nurtured our ecological identities and considered our pursuits of environmental justice. In the mornings, we accessed our senses, considered the movement within the forest, crossed thresholds, befriended trees, played in a babbling brook, sat in order to simply be, and connected our heart-minds with the natural environment. During the afternoons and evenings, we integrated our experiences through engagement in nature-themed creative endeavors, hikes through the mountains, rest, “birdsong and poetry vespers” (singing, silence, and poetry readings), and processing our days in small groups. One participant said that they would never walk in the forest the same way again. We heard from many others who said the same thing.
What a joy and honor to with-ness the human participants showing up for nature as well as each other: we were intentional about “learning to experience nature as nature experiences itself” (Ben Page). Being present in and with the natural environment encourages the walls between us, the more than human world, our stuff, and others’ ideas, to dissolve as we understand more intimately our inter-beingness.
~ Jeanette Banashak
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Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.