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We were fortunate enough to have the freedom and time to make a last-minute trip up to far north Queensland earlier this month. I had the opportunity (again) to share my childhood playground with my sons. As we explored the warm and wet rain forest I warned them to watch out for the Stinging Bush (tree)/Gympie Gympie and the Wait-a-While/Calamus australis (Lawyer Cane).

Being immersed in the rain forest brought up childhood memories of learning to approach the rainforest slowly, and use all my senses.

Don’t rush, go slowly with awareness and respect... or you can get barbed and caught by Wait-a-While or stung by Gympie Gympie.

If caught by Wait-a-While, you then need to stop, wait a while, and gently release all the little barbs from your skin and/or clothes. Or worse, if you rush past a Gympie Gympie it would sting for weeks and weeks. It is notorious for its extremely painful and long-lasting sting. It is reputed to be the most venomous plant in Australia (!). I remember a boy in my class not having a shower for a month after brushing up against a Gympie Gympie, as the movement of water over the microscopic hairs was excruciating.

So, another valuable lesson from our natural environment. Slow down. Notice your surroundings. Listen, look, smell, walk gently with care and respect. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet and caressing the sights with your eyes.

“When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth... Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Do you have any lessons from nature you would like to share?

I wish you all the best with your practice.

xx Freya

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