Nova Scotia·AUDIO ESSAY

How being still in nature can remind us of what it means to be human

Storyteller and ecologist Shalan Joudry says Mi'kmaw culture isn't known for explicit meditative practices, per say, but there's power in being still in nature.

'Our Elders, L’nu Elders and cultural leaders, have been encouraging us to slow down'

Storyteller and ecologist Shalan Joudry reflects on her Mi'kmaw culture and the power of sitting still in the forest (Briana Corr Scott for CBC)

Right now, we're going through a period of uncertainty and change. We asked a few East Coast creators to reflect on their own transformations, in the past or present.

Storyteller and ecologist Shalan Joudry says Mi'kmaw culture isn't known for explicit meditative practices, per say, but there's power in being still in nature.

The power of being still in nature

CBC News Nova Scotia

1 year ago
0:56
Hear Audio: Shalan Joudry. Art: Briana Corr Scott for CBC 0:56

Take a listen to Shalan Joudry's audio essay, Falling into nature, for Information Morning. Shalan went out into the forest, past the houses in her community of L'sitkuk, to share her thoughts. 

You might want to close your eyes after pressing play. 

Transcript: 

Our Elders, L'nu Elders and cultural leaders, have been encouraging us to slow down. 

Teluisi shalan joudry. Tleyawi Mi'kma'ki, aq wiki L'sitkuk. I'm a poet, storyteller, mother and ecologist.

My partner, Frank Meuse, tells us instead of going into the forest to observe it, we also need to sit and let it observe us. I started doing that a few years ago and it reminded me of how I spent time in the forest when I was a teenager. I would sit on a rock and stare at a brook or a mossy landscape for hours and daydream.

“The real medicine comes in the stillness,” says Shalan Joudry. (Shalan Joudry for CBC)

Later, I thought that was being unproductive. We're often guilted in some way to be more productive in our jobs and lives.

I remember an elder saying that watching a fire burn is his way of meditating. I think being still in the forest is like that for me. The first few minutes my mind is still buzzing with thoughts and I talk to myself for a while. Eventually, I'm not sure how, but before too long my thoughts slow down, my mind is settled, like a fog clearing. I'm more ready to hear the birds and the way the trees sound in the breeze. I'm more ready to just smell the scents of the forest, without naming them or calculating them, just breathing them in. 

Shalan Joudry is a poet, storyteller, mother and ecologist. (Shalan Joudry for CBC)

I imagine back to the time of our long-ago ancestors here. I can appreciate that life wasn't easy living completely off the land. I think they must have had better mental health than we do today. The land and water kept them well. But now, too much is happening in our day to slow down enough to really get the most potent attributes of nature. When we go camping or hiking, It's lovely and healthy, but I believe we miss out on something more profound. The real medicine comes in the stillness.

To me, sitting in nature long enough, reminds me about what it means to be part of the land, what it means to be human.

now