Nature has taught me many things. Without her I would not have found the space and stillness to embrace myself more fully, both my darkness and my light.
Thanks to her patience, and the patience I learned as I sat in silence, I was able to acknowledge and accept not just the parts of myself that I am proud of but the parts that I hide, the parts that I am ashamed of, the parts that I would prefer to ignore.
This inner work is not easy to do (nor speak of), and it scares us, for this inward journey, though filled with eventual treasures, can at first be a frightening and confusing challenge.
To embrace ourselves fully we must first see and acknowledge ourselves in all our aspects.
This is the challenge. Society, our families, our pride and some would say our common sense tell us to ignore what is painful and ugly and sad within ourselves and to move on, move on, move on.
And this works for a while. And for some of us this works for a whole lifetime.
But for others there comes a time when we must look within, and make friends with ourselves.
Karl Jung calls our darkness the shadow. He says that in middle life we can choose whether to spend our time on the awareness of the shadow or the denial of it. Both will take up a large chunk of our time but will lead to different outcomes.
Coming into contact with our own darkness can be shocking and deeply challenging, and yet if we give this process the time it needs it can lead us to a better relationship with ourselves and eventually with the world.
The beautiful Aboriginal word Dadirri has been on my mind. We visited Sydney recently and the ancient spirit of that land captivated me and I remembered this word that I heard many months ago and it stared to make sense.
Dadirri is a sacred practice developed by the Aboriginal guardians of the land.
"It means deep listening and quiet, still awareness. It is a 'tuning in' experience with the specific aim to come to a deeper understanding of the beauty of nature. Dadirri recognises the inner spirit that calls us to reflection and contemplation of the wonders of all God's creation."
A Reflection By Miriam - Rose Ungunmerr - Baumann of the Ngangikurungkurr people from Daly River in the Northern Territory.
I realised that this deep and rich practice of Dadirri was at the root of my ability to sit with nature, to sit with myself. It helped me to know myself, to accept myself, to comfort myself, and to eventually love myself, in both my darkness and my light.
And this process never ends. It is a lifelong journey of being willing to listen, to keep our hearts open, to embrace our sorrows as well as our joys.
Dadirri may be the key to our future here on earth. This practice, deeply natural to us as humans, and largely forgotten, calls us to go deeper, to listen, to breathe, to connect.
The photo of the rock above was taken on the Bondi to Bronte beach walk in Sydney.
Here is a video of Miriam - Rose Ungunmerr - Baumann speaking about what Dadirri means to her. I find it very calming and comforting.
"The sound of deep calling to deep..."