How To Listen To Nature

Oct 14, 2022


We had been planning the vacation for months. A storm was brewing as our car pulled into the parking lot for the ferry. 

My mind rationalized. “It’s only three nights. We’ll be gone before it gets here.”

It was a small island off the south coast of South Carolina, and Hurricane Ian was approaching Florida. I'd been reading about the island— A bird lovers paradise! No cars. Bicycle's and golf carts only. Minimal tourist amenities. It sounded perfect for us.

My ego wanted to push on, despite a raucous commotion of Raven’s above us. "Hurricane Ian is moving slow, anyway."

A wild dance of Spanish Moss among Live Oak branches charmed the hesitation in my gut. “It would be an adventure! It could be exciting!” 

The Ravens, as if outraged at my temptation, rioted in shouts, gurgles and winged acrobatics. 

That’s when a message from the owner of our vacation rental came in on my phone, “You might want to reconsider.” 

South Carolina isn’t a familiar landscape for me. But it was difficult to ignore the sensory signals nature surrounded us with: fierce wind on our face, gray and bulbous clouds overhead, frantic sounds of birds to our ears, dust in our eyes, and that feeling in our guts — The birds were preparing, leaving, diving deeper into thickets. It was time to shift. Time to go. 

Nature signals us all the time. It’s a stimulating million year old conversation many have forgotten to listen to. It's an ongoing communication between our sensory receptors and the world outside.

Stimulating conversation requires skillful listening. If we don’t understand subtle nuances of language, we can miss important information and make incorrect predictions. We build communication skills through attending, practicing, and understanding.

If we understand the language of landscape, we can notice when behaviors of birds and other animals change before a storm. 

But even before a storm, on a normal autumn day, nature invites us into its unbroken lineage of knowing. Nature invites us to learn her language.

A leaf exhausts itself on the ground, a drop of water releases from the sky, the sun concedes to night earlier. 

When nature’s voice changes, are you listening?

When a stranger says, “Reconsider…” Will you turn around? 

When your heart stammers and your blood pressure rises, will you notice?

How many times have you dismissed an inner voice that said, “Go! Go now! This way! Not that way!” 


 "Slow down. Take it easy.." 


“Time to let go.”


"Just say no (or just say yes)." 

Maybe your friends said, “Hey, are you sure you want to...?” And something in your stomach flipped and your heart skipped a beat, but you cast those feelings aside and did it, anyway...

And you went on doing what you did because it's what you thought you should do. Or because you were good at it, so why not keep doing it?

Knowing how to listen to nature’s wisdom, and to our own inner voice, requires practice.

Before a storm brews within you. Before you find yourself in the eye of a hurricane, there are many ways to practice listening. 

You can practice in tiny ways throughout a normal day. 

When a leaf falls before you, pause, breathe, notice the smell, the color, the way you feel watching it. 

When you are driving home and notice the sun is about to set below the horizon, you can pull the car over to a safe spot off the road, place the gear in park and let your eyes settle on the horizon. Breathe, notice the light, the colors, the way you feel watching the sun go down. 

Nature connection requires tiny efforts across a day, week, month, year, lifetime.

Autumn is a time of year that reminds us it’s healthy to say, “I’m tired. It’s done.”  

Autumn asks us to practice slowing down, listening, preparing for a few darker months. 

I'm glad we listened to the Raven's warning and went deeper inland away from the storms intensity. We are grateful we had the luxury to leave when others didn't. 

I invite you to try these simple strategies for listening during the liminal time of year we are entering. 

Instead of saying, “I hate how it gets dark so early,” try saying, “I love how the darkness gives me permission to do less.”  

When tiredness implores you to go to bed even though it's “only 8:30,” ask yourself if what you are staying up for is vital for living, or can it wait another day? Ask, “If I go to bed now and get more sleep, will I feel more capable tomorrow?” 

And as you prepare for the looming holiday season, consider giving yourself a mental health gift to recharge your battery and enter the holiday season with a new resource for peace and presence. 

Current Offerings (Autumn 2022)

1. Join a retreat to add a simple, yet powerful new way to stay grounded and care for yourself during the holiday season. CLICK HERE

2. Get support through 1:1 coaching to help you and your family thrive through the holiday season. CLICK HERE

3. And for those of you who want a really deep dive into the NatureLed Approach, join our next cohort for a year-long adventure to better understand the role nature plays in human health and rehabilitation while building your skills to be an effective mentor, or teacher. CLICK HERE

If you want to learn more about how to grow healthy brain structure in nature, or as a healing modality, click the button below. 

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