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Flow with the Stream of Life

by Milissa on August 7, 2011

in Mindfulness,Nature

Here’s a mindful nature practice for you to try this week.I actually learned a version of this during a retreat I co-lead with Katherine Banbury at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon about ten years ago.

One of the stewards of the Earth at Breitenbush, who lived in the old growth forest and staffed the hot springs retreat center, told us that one of his daily spiritual practices was to pause on the footbridge that crossed the river. Looking downstream—with his back to the rushing water—he’d let go of anything that wasn’t serving him, the Breitenbush community, the Earth. Then, once he’d cleared out the murky stuff, he’d let the clear mountain water pour into the back of his heart center what he desired and intended to create for the good of all beings.

This practice captured my heart and, for years, when I lived on Nicollet Island, I would pause on the footbridge to Boom Island—with my then-young terrier pulling at the leash to get going—and let go downstream what was heavy in my heart and, into the space that had emptied out, receive the flow of what served my intention.

I sometimes revisit this practice, as I walk the river gorge near where I currently live in South Minneapolis—treading slower with the senior dog. I silently thank the river for taking my painful feelings, or limiting beliefs, and letting them be absorbed in the vastness of the sea.

Yesterday, hot from riding my bike from the river to Minnehaha Creek, I waded into the stream. What a lovely feeling!

I remembered this nature practice and began to let go and to receive the fresh flow physically, and energetically. The creek was running swiftly for this time of year, and it felt like a blessing to be assisted in releasing so much of the challenge of seeing my husband go through a painful treatment regime to cure his cancer. I let go of the accumulated struggles and hardships that we’d been through. I released the pain for him, the worry for me and for the little dog—who has also felt the strain we’re sure. Feeling gratitude, I waded back to the creek’s bank and stepped onto land again.

Getting back on my bike I felt lighter. I wished the heron, who perched in a nearby tree flipping a fish around, a most delicious and enjoyable snack. Thanked the water and the trees. And vowed to remember this practice myself, and share it with you.

Here’s how to experience this
mindful nature practice yourself:

•  Stand on a bridge or in a shallow stream or creek, facing downstream.

•  Silently ask the water to cleanse any unwanted, non-lifegiving feelings or energies.

•  Let this mental/emotional flotsam float away from you, downstream.

•  Now, think about what you really want in your life. Intend what you desirfrom the deepest part of you.

•  Let your heart’s intention flow into you from upstream.

•  Repeat if there’s more to release, or more to manifest.

•  Give thanks.

•  Come back and share a comment here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

dj August 8, 2011 at 4:53 am

This is lovely! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much, Milissa.

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Milissa August 8, 2011 at 8:42 am

@dj You have some gorgeous rivers and streams up north to do this practice with! We hope to get to the North Shore in September.

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Brynn Flaherty August 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Beautiful, Milissa…really beautiful. I am going to share this with a friend.

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Milissa August 10, 2011 at 10:10 am

Glad you liked. Thanks for sharing @Brynn!

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Karin August 11, 2011 at 8:03 am

How like you Milissa, to un-earth a faithful, old gem from the collection of goodies in that yogic tool kit of yours. And how like you to share it with all of us… in such a lovely way. I did the nature practice yesterday. It was divine. I dont think you will be surprised to learn that I had a little doggy friend along with me, who literally assisted the process. I thought he was a terrier… turns out he’s a shepherd! We’re going back for another dose today. Thanks for yet another kernel of wisdom.

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Milissa August 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

Not sure how you make a heart emoticon…but that’s what’s comin’ back atcha @Karin. I’m looking forward to your blog? Got it online yet? It’s so easy on Wordpress.

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Karin August 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I can see the heart you sent to me in my mind’s eye, which works just fine for me. But if you ever want to make a heart emoticon with your keyboard… there’s the ol’ <3 ("less than" key with the 3) or an even cooler one… ♥ (alt key with the 3 key on your number pad). It's a beautiful thing! No blog action from me & my computer… yet. But I will give Wordpress a look. Thanks!

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