Countdown to Earth Day: Connecting With Nature Might Be The Most Powerful Force in Kane County

Countdown to Earth Day: Connecting With Nature Might Be The Most Powerful Force in Kane County

  • The Kane County Board Energy And Environmental Committee, Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources and Kane County Connects are teaming up for a “Countdown to Earth Day” series celebrating the success stories and spotlighting the environmental challenges we face right here, right now in Kane County, IL. Today’s essay is written by Kane County Board member Jarett Sanchez.

The Fox River is teeming with life and energy. The waters move continuously every day, flowing into the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and then finally down to the Gulf of Mexico. The river’s current — sometimes fast, sometimes slow — never stops. It just flows.

Glaciers from the last Ice Age carved paths through the Earth as they melted. In their wake were left the occasional river with a myriad of rocks, fossils, and other geological wonders. Growing up along the Fox River, I know that those wonders even include large boulders.

Jarett Sanchez

About 10 years ago, I learned a very powerful form of meditation. And while the technical aspects of the practice are meant to be taught in person, the basic technique is pretty simple:

Put your body in a certain position (standing or sitting), breathe deeply into your belly, and let go of your thinking … Notice that I did not say, “let go of your thoughts.”

When I first tried meditation in high school, I attempted to literally turn off all of the thoughts in my mind. What happened was the opposite, and it felt like I went from a gentle stream to a raging waterfall.

In this practice, we breathe deeply and become aware of the breath going in and out. As we do this, we start to really notice our thoughts as they occur in our mind —  thoughts that come from everywhere and that are about anything.

Maybe it’s something you have to buy from the grocery store. Maybe it’s something from your childhood that you haven’t thought about in a very long time. Blissful thoughts, scary thoughts; anything can come up during meditation.

The trick is that we don’t think about any of these thoughts. We don’t entertain them or keep them around. We just watch them. We become a silent witness, an observer to the activity that occurs within the mind. We don’t push them away and we don’t seek them out. We just let them flow.

And like a river, our mind is always active with the thoughts that stream from the glaciers of our subconscious. Even while we sleep, the mind becomes engaged in dreaming. It just never really stops.

When we start meditating, it’s like we’re a river bug that is trying to hold on to a great boulder while the river rushes past. We often lose our grip on the boulder and find ourselves swirling in the waters. We find ourselves thinking. So then we just “come back” to the big rock and hold on again.

At a certain point, we are no longer the small creature — we become the great boulder. We no longer get easily swept into the stream of our consciousness. We hold firm and witness the waters rushing past.

When I look at the Fox River now, I don’t just see an ecosystem with all of its amazing wildlife, I also see a symbol for one of the most powerful ways that we can connect with our deepest self.

Read The Countdown To Earth Day Series