Omega: You described an experiment in which you ask people go into the woods, sit, observe, and let nature come to them. It seems the same exercise could have been designed by a meditation teacher. "Do you have a meditation practice?"
Janine: I don’t sit on a cushion, but every opportunity I can, I put myself in the presence of the natural world and give myself up to it and try to get out of the way.
I try to quiet my own cleverness when I’m outside. I live surrounded by a lot of beauty. So I leave the house a lot during the day. I usually go out to have a phone call and then I turn the phone off and wind up staring into the pond, where I lose myself. I’m not there. It’s not interior really but I’m not thinking. I am allowing. I love letting those organisms come to me. If I sit quietly enough and I just become part of the scenery, they’ll start to come to me. I don’t know whether that’s meditation. I just know that I’m very refreshed after 15 minutes of that.
The thing is to listen, to observe, without hunting. When I’m hunting for something, I’ll never be surprised. But If I sit and don't have a preconceived notion about what I’m going to see, that is I don’t create a hypothesis, I’m surprised. And I like to be surprised. The best thing in the world is for me to go, “Oh my gosh! I didn’t know this was about to happen and it has. How delightful.” But if I go in with a hypothesis like, “Oh, I might see a pileated woodpecker,” then I’m hunting for the pileated woodpecker for the entire time.
There’s a lot more joy in just going in without a preconceived expectation of what would be delightful. Nature will always be more delightful than you could of possibly imagined.
© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies