I don’t know if it is because of lockdown or whether people always enjoy and respond to blogs that encourage being in nature and learning from the natural world?  Either way, the feedback to all my blogs that have had natural themes in recent months has been very positive.  So I wanted to give you another opportunity to gain insights and ways forward from engaging with nature, this time by learning from a river. 

Rivers have long been metaphors for life journeys and inspire great art and poetry.  See a lovely example here.  Today, I want to invite you to explore two additional ways you can learn from, and be inspired by, a river.

The first option is to bring to mind a challenge you are facing at the moment, a dilemma or a situation or experience you’d love to change.  Simply imagine this challenge or issue as a river.  For this exercise, you could look at a picture or photo of a river or simply see it in your mind’s eye. 

However you visualise the river, consider each of the following questions, giving yourself just about 30 seconds to come up with your responses and write them down.

  • What does your river look like?  Is it wide and deep like the Ganges, fed by many tributaries, or is it more like a stream, just starting out?
  • How is it moving?  Fast or slow? Babbling brooke-like? Rapid-like?
  • How clear is the water?  What can you see in it?
  • What do you notice along the banks of the river?

Armed with your responses to these questions, what is the river telling you about your challenge? 

The second option is simply to go spend time by a river, walking or sitting, and simply ask it what it has to share with you today?  Be open to this inquiry, curious about where it will take you, not really having any specific questions or any issues you want to explore, simply opening to the River’s wisdom.

The latter was the approach I took today.  I’d been having a bit of a challenging day, the video I was recording for a client hadn’t gone well due to technical issues and needed to be redone, which meant we wouldn’t meet our original deadline.  I was falling behind with other work as I tried to get on top of the technology.  And I was feeling pressure to complete this blog so it can go out on schedule!

I decided that the best approach was to go be by a river and see what it had to say to me today and take it from there!

The river I visited is the one in the photo here.  I’m fortunate, it’s just by my home and I can access it easily.  I’m going to share with you the questions my river posed to me today, as I think they could be relevant for you too and it demonstrates how this process can work…

When I got there, I could see the river was swollen and moving fast!  The river invited me to consider where am I getting swept along in the current of other peoples’ plans or opinions?  Personally or professionally, where do I go along with things when really I need to be setting boundaries or taking a stand?

There’s been a lot of rainfall of late and even as I was walking more rain was coming down fast.  The river asked me where am I being filled up beyond saturation point? 

It was a great question… I’m sure we’re not the only house in the country that has consumed loads of sweets recently, bought in anticipation of ‘trick or treaters’ who almost certainly won’t be calling anyway.  Somehow, all those sweets and all that sugar is being consumed.  Kilos of it!  The river got me to acknowledge that and my role in it – I do most of the shopping and I have been engaging in plenty over-consumption.  I want to stop that now that I’ve recognised it! 

And finally, I was reminded of the power of nature to completely shift the experience of the day you are having.  After less than 30 minutes outdoors, emptying my mind of all the to do’s and recriminations about technical glitches and opening up to the sounds and wisdom of the river, I was more myself again.  I felt open to possibilities, had a clear way forward with the things I needed to do and my blog was more or less written!

You can see how insightful it can be to seek wisdom from a river!

So I invite you to make a plan, choose a day and a time to engage with a river, indoors or out, and see what it inspires in and for you. 

And share your experiences in the comment box below, we might all benefit from the questions you are asked and the insights you gain.  

To living a life you love.