A nature painting comes from the Q’ero tradition. In the mountains of Peru the shamans use earth or sand mainly because there are no trees in the high altiplano in Peru. The original name is sand painting for this reason. We call it a nature painting because we have the good fortune to have more choice in what we can use to create this wonderful tool.
Legend and lore says that the creation of a sand painting is where we communicate with our spirit; where our spirit voice has the opportunity to work and speak through the natural world.
Grandfather, a displaced Lipan Apache teaches us that the spirit/energetic world communicates through signs and symbols and through the natural world. The energetic world does not use words.
So the Nature painting is a place where we work our stuff in the realm of the mythic and energetic.
The nature painting is where we can begin to read the signs of the natural world, how to transpose them into our everyday lives and how this can assist us to make very subtle and yet powerful shifts in our experience of the everyday. It is a picture, a picture of us created in a circle that can be viewed from different places enabling us to look and see things differently.
Now here step by step is how to create your own nature painting.
1 You want to create a circle. The size is entirely up to you but I would suggest that you allow for at least the size of a large dinner plate. You can use twigs, leaves, and flowers. Whatever you feel you want to create the circle with is ok. I would suggest you keep the objects as natural as possible.
2 Then find an object to represent you and place this in the centre of your nature painting.
3 Find objects from nature to represent aspects of the issue or situation you’re facing.
4 Take a deep breath and focus your attention inside of yourself find the emotion, thoughts, beliefs or energy that you are holding within you that relates to the situation etc. Pull up the energy with your breath and blow on to the item you have chosen to represent this aspect. Then place each item into your circle. Be aware that you may have emotions of thoughts come up that you were not expecting, put it all in the nature painting.
5 You may have discomfort in your body. Again blow the energy into the object and place it where you feel it wants to go.
6 Take your time with this allow yourself to be creative and stop thinking. Your mind is busy because you are doing something allow the feelings to come up and allow your nature painting to create itself.
7 Spend a few moments with your circle notice how you feel inside. Close your eyes take a few deep breaths, open your eyes, notice, just notice what you are experiencing. If there appears to be nothing be with nothing.
8 You can take the time to walk around your nature painting observing it from the 4 directions. From the ground from above. Notice any change in how you feel depending on which position you view this creation. You are practicing a shift in perception. A nature painting can be left for a few days and during this time you can go back take a look move things if you feel you want to. Or you may find that things have been moved anyway. Know that in this moving and shifting in the place of the mythic it will continue to inform your life. Know that it is much easier to shift things like this than to take your whole life and make the shifts physically and emotionally. Know that when you step in, the natural world has heard your call and recognises you have made a commitment to make a difference and to be the difference in your life. The natural world will also give you messages through your nature painting so if something happens to your circle stay awake to the message it is giving you. Overlay the encounter on your daily life and see what it is telling you. Maybe it is an opportunity to see something that until now has remained hidden.
We use nature paintings for many reasons. They give us the opportunity to find places of heavy emotion inside of us release it with our breath into a natural object and let it work there energetically, rather then holding it inside of us. A place where you can release heavy energy in the form of thoughts, emotions and behaviours and let them work energetically. You still have to commit to creating a new map for yourself and often the shifts occur so subtly that it can be a while before you actually notice things are different.
The nature painting is a great tool to use for all kinds of situations, whether they are work; family, friend related any number of reasons. You can use them with children with businesses. It is a great way to see what is really going on.
I remember once I created a nature painting around some personal work which involved being busy all the time feeling exhausted and resentful. So I created my sacred circle and placed some objects inside to represent the issues that had showed up in my life. These objects included some nuts, which I placed in the centre to represent nourishment. I left my creation and went in doors. Within a few minutes there were 2 squirrels in my circle eating my nuts!!!!
At first I wanted to bang on the window, I felt angry that they were in my space and eating my nuts.
Then I stopped myself, of course they were helping me to see how I was feeding others but not myself and as a result I was feeling resentful and empty. As I stood and watched one of the squirrels took a nut and buried for a rainy day!!! Again this was a message that I had to go deeper to nourish myself. My yearning was for some space to feed myself spiritually. I wanted to nourish that deeper part of me. I saw that the anger and resentment I felt towards others was actually my own anger at myself for never listening and that if I would just allow myself the nourishment I craved then I would have far more to share with others.
That is when I committed myself to Ashtanga yoga and this became one of my coordinates to nourish myself in a way that was of service to me, my life and all those I came in to contact with.
I have many amazing stories about nature paintings. They truly can bring us the most subtle and yet amazing insights and messages.
I remember once during a vision quest we sent the participants out to create a nature painting setting their intention for their vision quest. One of the participants came running is very distressed because a cow had done a huge poo right in the middle of her nature painting.
Now she had chosen to create her nature painting in a cow field and spirit speaks to us in many ways. She understood what that big poo symbolized once she had calmed down and had the opportunity to reflect on the intention and purpose of her Quest.
So go create a nature painting. Have the experience