Welcome to the first installment of A Wild Hunch: Ideas for Reclaiming Our Natural, Intuitive Wisdom in the Natural World!

Recently I co-led an Intuitive Nature Walk with a master naturalist friend of mine. As I was planning my introduction, I ran into a wall. How could I explain the inexplicable relationship I’ve long felt between my intuition and the natural world?

It was only when I (appropriately enough) went on a walk through a nearby nature preserve that I realized the relationship isn’t inexplicable at all. It may be mysterious, but it’s really quite simple:

Nature and intuition are the same thing. There’s the natural world around us, and the natural world within us. There is no separation between them. We are all one.

Meditation teacher and psychologist Tara Brach often points out that as living creatures anxious about our existence, we humans tend to over-manage our lives as we attempt to maximize good feelings and minimize pain. We use our brains as command-and-control centers to try to steer every dust particle in the world in the direction we think best. (Or maybe that’s just me. 😉)

While understandable, this tendency robs us of a more profound intelligence and sense of safety that rely not on logic, control, and outside circumstances, but rather an ability to respond to whatever is happening in this moment from a deeper, more compassionate place in ourselves—a place filled with the wisdom, creativity, and power of nature.

I had an experience of this deeper, wiser, and fresher intelligence the other day when I was meditating in my room. Suddenly, mid-meditation, I had the urge to put my feet in water.

I walked down to the creek in our backyard, took off my shoes, and stepped in. The water flowed gently past me, cool and supple against my skin. It soothed not only my overheated feet, but also my aching heart, as if the water carried my grief over the loss of my father away with it in tiny, tinkling pieces.

It reminded me of a sign my husband and I saw on a recent visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park that explained how important rivers are to the Cherokee, whose homeland included the lands of the park before they were violently and unjustly forced to leave. Traditionally, Cherokee people had a ritual each morning to wade into the river, which they believed would cleanse them of illness and bad thoughts. Waist-deep in the current, they would throw water over their heads, and say, “Wash away anything that may hinder me from being closer to you, God.”

After my own impromptu ceremony, I left the creek feeling relieved and replenished, both carrying less and holding more. My logical, command-and-control brain never would have gotten me there. I needed the deeper wisdom of the wild world inside me—my intuitive nature.

Find Your Own Intuitive Nature

Here’s an easy way:

  1. Get your feet into a body of water—a lake, pond, river, creek, or even a puddle will do. Sense where your feet want to go and follow them there.
  2. Bring your attention to your senses—what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel on your skin and in your heart and gut.
  3. Stay until you’re done, for as long as feels good to you.

Alternatively, if wet feet don’t sound good to you, sense into what your body does want to touch. Earth on your bare feet? Tree bark on your cheek? Go outside and let your body lead you to whatever it wants contact with, then follow steps 2 and 3 above.

I would love to know what this is like for you! I’ve created a group on Facebook so we can receive each other’s stories. Please share your experiences there. (I’ll look for alternative gathering spaces, but for now, Facebook is the easiest for most.)

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Photo by NATHAN MULLET on Unsplash