From the work of scientists like UBC's Suzanne Simard, among many others, we are learning more and more about the intelligence of the earth, how trees communicate with each other, and the myriad physical and creative benefits humans gain from spending time in nature.
An article in Outside, cites neuroscientist David Strayer’s research which has shown that our "prefrontal cortex is less active when we’re out in a natural environment. When the prefrontal cortex quiets down, the brain’s default mode network kicks in. Think of it as the imagination network: it’s activated when we’re not focusing on anything specific, and instead are allowing the mind to idly wander or to dip into our deep storehouse of memories, ideas, and emotions. When the ‘imagination network’ kicks in, sudden flashes of creative insight come to you. "
There are loads of benefits humans receive from nature. But what about a 2-way communication with the natural world?
In an article entitled Learning the Language of Nature, the author, Timothy Seekings describes an essay called Spirituality as Common Sense, written by Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. "In Steindl-Rast's view, common sense does not refer to rational thinking and problem solving in practical matters. Rather, it is comparable to the basic human senses such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, which allow us to connect to the world around us.
Senses are not exclusive to humans either. All life connects to the surrounding world, and Steindl-Rast suggests that it does so through the common sense. As humans, we experience this common sense when we connect with animals, trees, or other living beings and experience moments of affinity and deep connectedness.
What if life has a common language? We know that all life shares a common code: DNA and RNA. But what if life has a common language of the senses, not a language based on a system of semiotics, but one based on a common sense, a language that we can understand in principle, perhaps through feeling?"
Can we learn this lingua franca, gather together those feelings and sensations that we experience in nature and create abstract paintings from those experiences? We'll explore that in my upcoming workshop, Workshops in Wild Places Stays Home: Create abstract paintings from a deep connection with wild nature where you live. Please join me. For details and pricing, go to: janicemasonsteeves.com