As much personal and spiritual work as I have done over the past two decades, I still find myself at times living out mental conditioning and fears installed in the early years of my life, holding me back from consistently living my authentic self.
Recently, I escaped for a short backpack trip into the John Muir Wilderness. I went with my good friend and colleague who frequently accompanies me on my sojourns into the wilderness. He brought a small pocket version of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao te Ching as “entertaining reading.” One night he shared what he read as he randomly opened the book.
“Be at ease in your own life.”
While just seven words in a simple phrase, it carried profound meaning for me as I unwound and dropped into the simple lifestyle of backpacking, where the most pressing question of the day is how far to our next campsite?
Being at ease in my own life brings not only deep meaning but also profound questioning…
What is “my own life?”
Am I truly living my own life and not some imagined, conditioned belief of what I’m “supposed to be doing?”
Where do I get my ideas of what is right for me in my life?
How do I “be at ease” with my own life if I can’t even determine what that is?
These were just a few of the questions that simple statement brought to mind. Questions that did not have simple, readymade answers, yet seemed incredibly important to answer.
I looked around at the majestic and wild environment and realized the answer was here in this amazing wilderness. Everything here was “at ease” with its own life. All were functioning as they should, the birds, the trees, the lakes. They were all in their own magnificence, not holding back, not making excuses or trying to be something other than what they were designed to be. They were completely at ease, unabashedly emanating their essence—their own lives.
Nature’s answer is simple; live how we are designed to live. While simple, it doesn’t seem to be so easy to live how I was born to live—my authentic self. It’s an ongoing process of “deconditioning,” as I continue to release the parts of me that are not “my own life.” With compassion and forgiveness for myself, I do find more and more ease available in each moment.
Getting back to Nature is one way I to continue my own journey to my authentic self. I encourage you to give yourself the gift of spending time in Nature and hear what She has to tell you about being at ease in your own life. You don’t have to hoist a pack on your back and trek into the deep wilds to hear the teachings. Nature is as close as your local open space, backyard garden or favorite beach. Go where you know you feel the silence that pulls you into yourself, into your own life, and see what it has to teach you about how to be at ease. Nature is the expert at being at ease in Its own Life, and if you take the time to be present with Her, She can show you how to find your own life.