Steven Chase

Steven Chase

Yesterday we posted an entry by Steven Chase about slowing down and noticing the natural world in order to enrich our perception of God and bring healing — the subject of Nature as Spiritual Practice. Today’s post is an example of how to slow down. More exercises like the one below will be available in Chase’s A Field Guide to Nature as Spiritual Practice.

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Intention: Balance is critical to discernment and to the “power of the slowing.” The intention of this practice is to recognize balance and imbalance in nature.

Practice: Paying careful attention to the natural world helps us practice discernment. Recognizing balance and imbalance also draws us closer to nature and to discernment. Allow yourself at least one hour of uninterrupted time for this practice.

  • Find a place in nature where you are comfortable and where you can spend time exploring the subtle balances and imbalances in creation. Focus for a time on your breath; become mindful and still.
  • When you are ready, begin going through the list of “balances” below. The idea is to recognize and complete a statement of “Balance is . . .” in the natural world around you. Move from one to the next only as you feel the need or as the next catches your attention. Focus on whatever draws your attention: a tree, the ecosystem, colors, a few blades of grass, wind, waves.
  • You may wish to journal, draw, photograph, or from your field guide “track” your particular interest in nature — birding, for instance. Whatever helps you pay careful attention to nature will help you focus on balance in nature.
  • When you are ready, bring to mind a particular issue that is important for you to discern at this time. Do an internal accounting of this issue in relation to how you are balanced or imbalanced in a similar way to nature. This internal accounting is an “examen of conscious” and a preliminary step in discernment.
  • How does nature guide your contemplations and meditations in directions that help you live mindfully?
  • How does balance in nature and internal balance guided by nature help you slow down? What do you notice about your discernment process?

Balances:

  • Balance is to locate the still point at the center of complexity.
  • Balance is to be in a constant state of sensitive fine adjustments.
  • Balance requires exquisite sensitivity to inner and outer forces.
  • Balance requires yielding and resisting, yielding and resisting.
  • Balance appears spontaneous and improvisational but is utterly responsible and devoted.
  • Balance is thwarted by pretense, also by insistence.
  • Balance knows both this and that, and prefers neither.
  • Balance is opportunistic.
  • Balance finds home anywhere, finds the center everywhere.
  • “Balancing” is more in balance than “balanced.”
  • Complete balance is the end of nature.

Click on the cover images below to order Steven Chase’s books:

Nature as Spiritual PracticeA Field Guide to Nature as Spiritual Practice