Learning to Observe: a Shamanic Teaching

By Leslie Bethel

One of my favorite things to do is to stand quietly outside, in nature, and observe the world. As I quiet my mind I can feel the connection I share with everything around me.

I drift and listen to the song of the bird, the mountain jay in the tree. I quiet my mind again and notice that the song has a story. I listen carefully I hear his story. It is a story of his day, the search for food, the beauty he feels with the sun warming his body, the peace and tranquility he feels in the quiet forest.

I quiet my mind again and ask what is his message for me.  Ah, the jay is happy I have asked. He is happy to be of service. He too feels the connection of all life. He shares with me, to be mindful of the regenerating power of the sun. To sit and feel its warmth, soak it into my body and notice the change. How does my body feel now after absorbing the sun’s rays? I can feel the difference. I feel invigorated.

I stand quietly in the forest; I feel the peace the blue jay feels. I feel the balance of a community in sync with itself, the forest community. I ask the forest what is your message for me today. Ah, the forest has an important question for me. What can you learn from me about a community in sync? Can you feel the balance? Can you feel what happens when we work together rather than independently? Indeed I can feel that.

Again, I quiet my mind and look around me at the connectedness of the forest. I am reminded of how as a group it weathers storms, as a community it provides places for creatures to live in balance. It provides food and shelter.

I thank the forest and the blue jay for its teachings.

Leslie lives in Western Colorado. She is on the Board of Directors for CSEE. She is a shamanic practitioner providing ceremonies and healing work for her community. She is also the Director for a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) where $25 million in construction of a new downtown library, community college facilities, parking structure, street, sidewalk and landscape improvements will be completed in 2014. Leadership and financing was completed through a partnership between five entities: the city, the DDA, the county, the college, the library district.