Deb Matlock shares how Nature Connections deepen our spiritual life and inform our decisions that affect our world. This a shortened version of Deb and my fascinating interview – so when you read “I”, know that’s Deb sharing, not Maribeth.
Be sure to watch the full interview here!
I never said, “Oh, I’m going to focus my work on the natural world.” But growing up we were always outdoors. And I grew up with animals.
A worldview that includes more than humans
My very first best friend was a dog named Jenny. There weren’t other kids around, so Jenny and I played all day and slept together at night. From that, I formed a worldview that included the more-than-human world.
As I aged, I developed my own spirituality, of what is life about and what I’m here to do. That came from the natural world and in deep connection with other living beings.
What does the Nature Connection mean?
It’s a lifelong journey of exploring how I relate and fit in with the rest of the living world.
Within that journey are little pieces of nature connection. This include times such as time outside, appreciating food, or knowing where my resources come from. For instance, the threads in my sweater – what’s the journey from the earth to my sweater?
Nature Connections can guide us
Our Nature Connection is a living question that guides us. Keep asking, “What does this interaction mean to me?” This can take us through an amazing journey.
Look back on your own life
For many of us, we can look back through our lives and chart our path to our spiritual connection.
And that might include being indoors and out. There’s no one path!
Weave in the connection to life around you
If we reflect on our childhoods, we might find memories that in that moment didn’t feel “spiritual.” But when we look back, we realize they were transformative.
As we move through our life, stay open to those experiences that guide our spiritual development.
Why spend time on the Nature Connection?
[Maribeth] Why waste our time on nature when we humans have a never-ending to-do list? What’s the value of deeply connecting to and understanding the planet’s inhabitants?
Because it allows us to see ourselves as part of a more expansive world.
We then communicate and collaborate with the world. As opposed to a top-down idea of the human-centric world that isn’t necessarily serving life on earth.
We’ve already tried human-centric
So let’s try something different. And natural world centric isn’t even new. It’s doing what humanity did from the beginning. And it helps us expand our sense of self.
Knowing what to do
As humans, we have a lot of responsibility, and a lot of incredible potential. Being deeply connected to the life around us can fuel authentic service and heartfelt action on behalf of other species in the world. It’s born from relationship.
And it’s exciting to create something good in our time on this earth.
How do we look at the world from the Nature Connection?
Be constantly open, looking and seeing.
How would it feel to be that coyote or that bird?
As an example, we notice birds are always nesting in this area and now this area has a challenge. We decide to do something. That’s when we bear witness to life around us.
Allow our hearts to stay open
Opening our hearts to the Nature Connection sometimes means our hearts break.
But I think the strength of our human spirit to say,
“I can let my heart get broken. That’s less painful than not acting from my heart.”
I’ve had communications with wild animals and realized, “Oh my gosh, they need this area. Humans need to understand how they’re using this area.”
As a result, I’ve worked for natural resource agencies. We helped manage the human use on land. We find the balance between human use, wildlife and plant needs, everybody who uses that land.
Let’s educate ourselves about the Nature Connection
We exist because of the biodiversity on this planet. So education is important. For instance, being conscious about where our food comes from helps us make better choices.
Better choices calm the heart
At least for myself, making better choices helps calm my heart. The more I learn, even if it’s not pretty, the more I think, “Okay, now I’m armed with information that can help me live as much of a life of integrity as possible.”
A simple Nature Communication practice
Go outside, stop and look around.
Who is here, part of my community? Who are my neighbors that I’m not aware of?
Just yesterday I heard these higher pitched little chirps. These little titmice weren’t here a week ago. I was so happy to see this flock of tiny birds, but it didn’t take any extra time.
This lifted my heart, and it also expanded my view of what’s going on in the world.
Record a new “being” daily
Each day write down one being of the natural world you didn’t notice before – maybe a bulb growing in the garden.
Just write, “bulb in garden.” That’s it!
Open a conversation with animals
Conversations can transcend our species. Open your hearts and minds to conversing with other species.
First, say, “I’m not going to let my brain tell me I’m nuts; that it’s not real.”
Instead, I’m going to say, “Good morning!” to the sparrow and just wait and be open.
See what you receive. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. It’s not a special gift. It’s part of our humanness.
[Maribeth] Be a kid with imagination. That imagination leads you to reality that you just didn’t notice was there before. That’s all.
Play with that childlike energy. Make it fun!
Think, “This experience can be a part of my path even though I didn’t learn it as a kid or my community wouldn’t relate. It’s my own embodied and empowered spiritual journey.”
Let our own experiences be front and center. Honor them and recognize them. Then there’s no need to disempower ourselves by following a guru, or using others’ ceremonies. We create our own understanding of the world and ceremonies.
Deb Matlock is deeply committed to nurturing the connection between people, animals, earth, and spirit. She’s spent 25 years working as a professional environmental and humane educator and naturalist.
Additionally, through her business, Wild Rhythms, Deb is a shamanic practitioner, life coach, and animal communicator, and assists people and animals through spiritual mentoring, animal communication, and shamanic style journey work. She has created a body of work called Nature-Based Spiritual Arts.
Deb teaches indoors and out, offering workshops and presentations and designs programs for groups and organizations. She holds a Master of Arts in environmental education and is pursuing her doctoral degree in environmental studies from Antioch University New England.
Read my blog!