Asking Nature’s Permission:

On a walking meditation, or hike, or just within the retreat grounds, invite children to find a place outside that they are attracted to and interested in.

Invite them to approach this place in silence and to ask for permission to sit or just be there. They listen for a few moments to see how nature responds. They may receive a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. If the response is ‘no’, they can find another spot and ask again. You can explain that nature sometimes gives us a ‘no’ because the area is not safe for us or something in that area needs protection.

Then they spend a few minutes sitting quietly in the area they have chosen. Come back together and ask them to share about their experience. What attracted them to that spot? How did they feel nature’s response?

Some things that people share represent a ‘yes’ answer for them are a soft breeze, or the song of a bird, or a warm feeling in their chest. Some have shared that ‘no’ answers are a sharp or sudden sound, or an uncomfortable physical feeling, like getting stung by nettles or caught on thorns.

There are no right or wrong experiences. The exercise is simply to build our awareness and connection to nature and to cultivate our humility with regards to nature to relearn that we are part of nature and do not need to dominate it.

Adapted from The Web of Life Imperative by Michael J. Cohen

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