We can hold in our conscious minds somewhere between 5 and 9 bits of information, concepts, or currents of thought. These thoughts pass through our minds like a swift flowing stream. Under the surface of this current is our unconscious mind, the vessel for our instinctual and automatic processes.
We can become more aware of our consciousness when we are out in nature. The boundaries between conscious and unconscious awareness become porous. Our bodies are build for survival. The senses that inform become more attuned to the snap of a twig, the firmness of the ground, or the deep growl of a predator.
The main difference now, between ourselves and a distant ancestor 10,000 years ago is the level of sensory awareness. We haven’t really lost any of the depth. What we have lost is the understanding. The feature that was heightened awareness, necessary for survival, has a new name. We call it anxiety now, and it’s considered a bug.
What happens when we visit nature is similar to when we add water to a dried sponge. The stiffness of our natural awareness becomes fluid and flexible. Awkward clumsiness is replaced by an effortless balance between the heightened awareness of our instinctual minds, and the focused attention of our conscious minds. The drag of anxiety is discarded, and replaced with a surge of recognition. The body remembers its atavistic essence. We become part of the community of nature and perceive it from within rather than outside.
This essence, this deepened awareness, is like a trail. The more we visit it, the more apparent it becomes. The traits that kept our ancestors alive reemerge and become part of our thoughts and movements. Conscious attention is no longer hijacked by anxiety. The gift of nature is the awareness that the energy of anxiety is really the heightened awareness of our survival instinct. Nature does not create traits that are not biologically useful. We can use our conscious attention to value and appreciate our natural experiences. We can reintroduce our physical bodies to the sensory stream of nature, and learn how to swim again.