Some of our greatest inventions and profound spiritual teachings are a result of careful observation of the natural world. Engineers, philosophers, and spiritual teachers have all looked to nature to answer life's questions and to solve its problems.
Can you imagine life without Velcro?! Thanks to Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, Velcro was invented in 1941 when he examined burrs that attached to his dog's fur as well as his clothing. Under a microscope, he saw the burrs had tiny barbs that allowed it to attach to passing creatures.
When we look to nature as a teacher, even ordinary phenomenon like a thunderstorm can teach us that no matter how dark your sky becomes, the sun will always be there, attempting to break through the clouds. We should all take notes, the perfect harmony with which the natural world operates can teach us many valuable lessons such as these:
1. BE PRESENT
Our ever evolving society has provided us with numerous ways to stay connected to the world around us. At the same time, this global social and commercial network has led to a disconnection from what really matters. Our minds have become cluttered with useless information and the worries of our future and regrets of the past.
However, when we look to the present moment, the burdens of all the things we have to do and the experiences of the past dissolve. There is only the now and the present moment is all nature knows.
It teaches us to be still, at ease, free of worry, to be present and free of attachment. The oak tree grows without anxiety, knowing that the universe always provides.
Just like a churned up bucket of water with silt, we cannot be at peace until we become present and still. When you let the water in the bucket settle, the silt will sink to the bottom. Practice being present in the moment and the silt will sink, exposing a clear and liberated mind that can see the world in a new light.
Luke 12:27 "Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."
To certain people, acceptance of the current situation might have negative connotations that might bring up thoughts of defeat, giving up, failing to rise above or becoming lethargic. However, acceptance does not imply we stop making plans or initiating positive change. In spiritual teachings, acceptance is the profound wisdom of yielding to the force of life, instead of opposing it.
When we accept what is, we still recognize undesirable situations and circumstances, but we stop labeling them negatively and refrain from judgement. Taking action with a positive outlook with no resistance to natural forces will expedite the process and produce results that reflect that mindset. Nature unfolds in harmony and in peace. The lilies do not need to spin nor toil because they always have what they need at the present moment.
Even in a drought, the plants will still grow without struggle. We can equate acceptance to being stuck in quick sand. When we struggle, we sink, but when we surrender to the situation we have a much better chance of getting out.
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." Lau Tzu
Related to the next lesson, patience is a virtue which is often hard to practice in our modern society. Instant gratification is something we are becoming accustomed to whether we like it or not. From miracle pills, fast food, instant communication and data at our fingertips, modern conveniences have made us increasingly impatient.
The lesson nature teaches us is to have faith that things will grow despite the unpredictable cycles of nature. Although we cannot control nature, we can exhibit patience and perseverance in our journey.
The fruits of our labor will surely be ripe for the picking if we have confidence that our efforts will produce results. Forcing and manipulating things in order to achieve results faster will create resistance and you will be working against the natural flow of life, instead of letting it aid you.
Practice patience in your efforts, don't give up, and have confidence that whatever you put your mind to will be accomplished when the time is right.
George Carlin put it best: "I like it when a flower or little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It's so fuckin' heroic." Overcoming impossible odds is a common theme in nature. Life thrives in some of the most unforgiving environments by following its natural instinct to survive. Plants and animals adapt and assimilate to the circumstances they are faced with.
Similarly, we as humans are also faced with various challenging conditions and situations. How we respond to them builds character and strengthens discipline. Each setback creates an opportunity to grow. For instance, when a plant is pruned, its natural reaction is to grow with even more vigor.
Likewise, each time something is "cut back" in your life, persevere through that event or situation knowing you will grow with even more abundance in your next goal.
An excellent example of teamwork in the natural world can be seen in the flying V-formation of geese. I will summarize two of my favorite lessons this strategy provides from the www.blog.7geese.com article.
By flying in a V, the geese take advantage of the uplift (an aerodynamic orientation that reduces air friction) created when the flock flaps its wings. The flock can a achieve a 70% greater flight range than a goose flying alone. We should adapt this strategy to our own lives and align ourselves with people who are flying in the same direction, or have a common goal. The momentum of the group is much greater than flying alone.
Another lesson to take away is to be there for your friends and family in times of need. When a goose is sick or injured, two geese will drop back out of formation to offer support. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly back to the flock. Having a support network in challenging times is crucial to the overall health of the team or in this case the flock.
If you ever watched the Mighty Ducks movies you are well aware of how the flying V-formation can have practical applications in our lives. Whether in sports, the work place, or in our social life, a synergy strategy will have far greater results than flying alone.