Have you ever experienced an altered state of consciousness (ASC) induced by nature? This phenomenon is happening to me frequently, so I assume that many of you must have similar experiences to share. Here is the experience that occurred recently at Lodi Lake in Lodi, CA.
The story began on a glorious Friday evening in summer (and isn’t Friday often the time that hard-working humans seek an altered state?) This was a particularly wonderful Friday as I was successful in leaving work by 6:00 p.m. I was elated by the thought that I still had a couple of daylight hours left, and I was feeling the need to take a short journey to a lake I had been hearing about in random conversations with colleagues. As I rushed to check my car, I took note of the camera in my purse and the tripod in the trunk next to the pair of walking shoes. I was ready for this short expedition!
Lodi Lake is located in an urban area, so I was pleasantly surprised by the wildness imparted by the Mokelumne River that feeds it. I excitedly gathered my camera and tripod in hopes to film short nature videos of the wildlife (this sojourn was specifically intended for frogs). I was immediately disappointed that this nature area was very noisy. Humans were everywhere and had brought their noisy machines with them—jet skis, fishing boats, boom boxes. The video would have to wait.
It took only moments of walking in the incredible beauty for the disappointment to be washed away and replaced by a profound feeling of joyous mystery. Every bend of the river was a new adventure; every tree beckoned me closer with a mysterious gravity I could not resist; the patterns of fading sunlight painted themselves across the landscape leading me in new directions in hopes I would discover their secrets embedded all around me. I was intoxicated by the scenery—but it was an intoxication of clear presence as if I could sense the beingness of each blade of grass, each fluttering leaf, each creature hidden beneath a tell-tale ripple of water.
The strange invisible threads that often pull at my temples (this came after my Reconnection a couple of years ago) were with me that evening, stretching gently yet persistently, connecting me to the world. Time disappeared and I was immersed in complete joy. As with all altered states, this moment melted slowly, leaving me standing on the earth, once again stranded in the illusion of separateness. What was left was an incredible gift–the inner knowing that I could access this portal again.
I’m not sure I understand why or how nature evokes these altered states of consciousness within me, but the feeling brings such a profound sense of healing that I am eager to do some further research. Surely this is an experience that could be very helpful for others–especially those incapacitated by depression. Can nature bring the healing medicine needed–without the dubious pharmaceuticals? I believe it can, but I need your help. If you have an experience that you can share with me, please reply to this post. Please include if you would like your response to be private, or if I may post it (anonymously, if you like) so that others may share in the experience. To access the complete gallery of numinous Lodi Lake photos with music, please click here: http://www.sanctuary4humanity.com/pages/gallery.html. Also, if you are interested in experiencing Lodi Lake, Sanctuary for Humanity is hosting a free Go with the Flow Nature Retreat on September 17. Check out the details on the calendar.
Warm wishes for a transforming experience,