Sacred Ecology

An Experiential Activity: The Power of Place

"The first time you consciously inhabit your ultimate place and act from your soul is the first time you can say Here and really know what it means. You’ve arrived, at last, at your own center. As long as you stay Here, everywhere you go, geographically or socially, feels like home. Every place becomes Here. This is the power of place, the power of Here.”

-Bill Plotkin

Recall a time that you felt utterly grounded, alive, present, and embodied. This particular moment may have been experienced during meditation or the birth of a child, looking into a lover's eyes, hiking, or while exploring a natural wonder. These times allow us to feel empowered and connected, and are a vital part of discovering our place in the world. This activity is designed to open us more deeply to our senses, the present moment, and the Power of Place.   

Activity: Find an outdoor place that calls to you. It can be a local nature preserve, a park, the mountains, your yard, or anywhere else that resonates at this time. Sit silently for thirty minutes in this place. Breathe deeply, get centered, tune into all of your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? Smell? What does the surface of your skin feel like? Are you able to discern any subtle sensations or inner openings? After thirty minutes has passed journal about your experience. (Note: if you would like to deepen this practice extend the length of time and/or continue visiting the same place over the course of a few weeks and journal about your experience. Are you able to see patterns and cycles? Are you able to connect more consciously with the Power of Place? What emerges for you?).  

My Personal Experience (backyard) 

When I am quiet and still enough, animal friends come to visit. A vibrant blue shrub jay swoops down into the grass an arm’s length away to pull worms from the moist dirt after a rare Central California rain. I have seen this same jay on other days in my yard too. A mockingbird, perched atop the neighborhood’s electrical post just a few feet in front of me, sings various tunes in rapid concession. I hear hawk, pigeon, crow, and lark… even a car alarm. I read a few weeks ago that mockingbirds can have up to 30 melodies in their repertoire at once. This bird, like the jay, has also visited my yard on more than one occasion and filled my heart with its beautiful voice. Flies buzz around every now and again, one lands on the ground just next to my right hand. It is so large I notice the hairs on its legs and the dark burgundy color of its normally scarlet red eyes. I think this particular fly is cute, if only for this moment, with its fuzzy body and the way its translucent wings become a webbed rainbow when the sun hits them just so. It turns its head from side to side as I lean in a little closer and smile.

I turn to my left and see my dog stretched out on the warm walkway. His nose twitches rhythmically in the wind, his head slightly upturned as if he’s caught the scent of something wild, something beautiful, something fresh and real. I can hear a lawn mower moving in rows a few houses up and even smell a hint of gasoline. There is a motorcycle and the sobering sound of sirens somewhere in the distance. A shovel hitting rocks and clumps of sand in the yard directly behind mine, the garbage truck making its weekly rounds and the dryer in my own house remind me that we are all in this together: the birds and worms, the dirt and rain, the sun and creatures of the world, humans… and the garbage truck. I touch a plank in porch below me with open palms and trace its lines to a row of nails. I see that wilderness is everywhere we look. Rocks and minerals can be seen in the cement of our sidewalks and asphalt of our streets. Millions of grains of soft white sand make-up our windows and glass. Wood, from trees, build the structure of our homes. Metals excavated from mountains build our tools, cars, batteries, electronics and so on. This means that literally everything we see was once wild... the very core of who we are and all that we create is sourced from Nature.