Wendell Berry Defining What I Call Spiritual Ecology

Costa Rica yoga teacher training Pavones yoga center

Describing an ancient stand of trees in the novel Jayber Crow (one of the books on our yoga teacher training recommended reading list), Wendell Berry writes:

“Everything there seemed to belong where it was. That was why I went there. And I went to feel the change that that place always made in me. Always, as soon as I came in under the big trees, I began to go slowly and quietly. This was not because I was hunting (I hunted in other places), but because in a place where everything belongs where it is, you do not want to disturb anything. I went slowly and quietly. I watched where I put my feet. I went for solace and comfort, for a certain quietness of mind that came to me in no other place. Even the nettles and the mosquitoes comforted me, for they belonged where they were.”

In so many words, Wendell Berry reminds me of my private reasons for teaching a nature-informed, ecologically-oriented yoga teacher training. The natural world reminds us of our human dignity, of the belongingness of all things. Without that recognition, something will always be lacking in a yoga practice. Wholeness will elude us. A yoga practice asks us to pause, and in that pause, especially if that pause is filled with the realization of belongingness, we may be lucky enough to glimpse the underlying order and unity of the world. And the quietness of mind may come along. Wendell Berry reminded me with these words both why I practice, and also why I live at the end of the road in the land-time-forgot called Pavones.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to live in caves or on farms – where do you go slowly and quietly, for solace and comfort? Cherish those places. They are sacred beyond measure.

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