Elevate Difference

Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

"The teachings and practices of this book will come alive only if you leave the comfort of your home and explore the natural world, which is always beckoning, just outside your front door." I read this first chapter of Mark Coleman's Awake in the Wild with a chuckle as I release my clutching grasp on the sticky New York City subway pole to turn the page of his book of Buddhist meditations. Sweaty bodies press against me as I struggle to be present in the moment and find my centered breath. Full disclosure: I have never meditated, never read a book on Buddhism, never traveled to India. My only Eastern spiritual experiences have been in yoga classes in Brooklyn where I usually leave early to rush to work on time.

So it is with particular sincerity that I recommend Coleman's book. I found that halfway through his organized musings on the importance of nature in our lives, I was pausing in the street to watch the sun set between the Manhattan skyscrapers and touching the bark of trees along the sidewalk to feel the energy emanating from the trunk. This book is an easy-to-follow, illuminating and inspiring guide to not just enjoy nature, but to really understand the necessity of finding the time to go outside. The meditations are simply outlined and definitely accessible to the first-timers as well as more seasoned Buddhist practitioners. Each section suggests different and unique ways of engaging with the natural world and includes specific actions and meditations to practice on your own whether you live on a foggy mountaintop or in a concrete metropolis.

Before I write too much more about my discovery of my inner wood nymph, I do admit that there were still quite a few eye rolls as I read about how watching a flock of geese or staring into rippling water can make your troubles gallop away. But after relishing the final pages, I am left with a new appreciation and respect for the power and beauty of the natural world and also a lingering sadness at the rate in which we are moving away from relationships with the wild and more towards virtual ones. Coleman will inspire you to flip shut your laptop's floating cloud screensaver, and go outside to breath in the real thing.

Written by: Dana Edell, June 2nd 2007