“All good things come from stillness.”
Listening to Nature will open your eyes and your heart to the serenity and joy of the natural world. This new edition of the beloved and bestselling classic has been extensively rewritten and includes dozens of new photographs.
Joseph Bharat Cornell, author of the classic Sharing Nature with Children, offers adults a sensitive and lively guide to deeper awareness of nature. His simple, transformative exercises, combined with stunning photographs and quotations from famous naturalists, will help you experience nature in a whole new way. This book features nature photographs by award-winning photographer, John Hendrickson.
Use this book and its gentle encouragement for personal nature communion, or as an aid for teaching nature awareness to children and adults. Learn to be still and silent, to absorb the wonder of your natural surroundings. You will feel and appreciate—and become one with—the great outdoors: its woodlands, mountains, streams, and fields. Let this book transport your spirit to the heart of crystal clear springs and ancient forests—and to your own still center of peach within.
Joseph Bharat Cornell is a world-renowned nature educator and author, storyteller, and meditation teacher, with a genius for helping others experience nature more profoundly. He is the founder and president of Sharing Nature Worldwide, one of the planet’s most popular and widely respected nature awareness programs. A prominent environmental educator describes him as “without a doubt one of the most inspiring educators in the field today. His unique blend of knowledge and warmth creates an atmosphere for learning that is very contagious.”
At the end of one of my nature awareness workshops, the group and I sat beside a trail, quietly enjoying the stillness of the surrounding forest. We had just finished doing several nature exercises that sharpened our senses and uplifted our awareness. The calling birds, the wind streaming through the trees, and the play of light and shadows on the forest floor were especially vivid that day.
The stretch of trail where we had paused is one of the most beautiful and popular parts of the park. As other hikers walked by, our group was struck by the contrast between our experience and that of most other people. Long before we saw them, we heard them discussing topics such as work, friends, and current events. We realized how easy it is to pass through a wild place so engrossed in private concerns and conversations that one notices little of the surrounding landscape.
I once demonstrated this phenomenon to a group of twenty-five educators in Canberra, Australia. I asked each one to focus on a beautiful tree as long as he was able to, and to raise his hand when his attention wandered from the tree to other thoughts. After six seconds every hand was raised. The educators were amazed to see how restless their minds were.
To understand and appreciate the world around us, we need to be attentive. The beauty and vibrancy of the natural world are ever present, but the pace and distractions of modern living interfere with our perception.
A friend of mine was once standing on a hotel balcony in Mexico, enjoying the city lights spread out before him. Suddenly a power failure plunged the city into darkness. As the lights of the city were darkened, the brilliance of the stars came alive. The glow of the city had overpowered the stars’ subtler light. Similarly, the rush of modern life often overpowers our awareness of nature’s glory.
Unfortunately, the human mind is restless. Psychologists have said that people generate about three hundred self-talk thoughts a minute. Two Harvard researchers, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, in 2010 discovered that 47 percent of the time adults think about something other than what they’re doing.* With one’s mind wandering constantly from the present moment, how can he expect to feel a deep rapport with people or with nature?
To help the reader better focus his or her mind, I’ve shared nature awareness principles as well as compelling stories, quotations, and exercises. These act as gentle disciplines to direct and engage our attention on the natural world. The stunning photographs by John Hendrickson capture the spirit of the book and uplift the reader.
This new edition of Listening to Nature has been extensively rewritten and includes many new quotations and complementary text, comprising altogether thirty-one days. The book reflects the more than forty years I’ve spent creating exercises and guiding others on nature awareness excursions around the globe.
May you always feel the joy of nature.
Joseph Bharat Cornell
Nevada City, California
November 27, 2013
“This book is a splendid masterpiece that captures the ‘Oneness’ we are all seeking to achieve with Nature.”
—Tom Brown, Jr., author of The Tracker
“Listening to Nature offers a doorway to silent contemplation and relaxation. It deserves a space on the shelf next to the writings of John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and other great naturalists.”
“A lovely book that speaks softly yet deeply.”
“We too seldom take time to appreciate nature’s beauty, wonder, and inspiration. Listening to Nature takes us back to this essence.”
—Vance Martin, Executive Director, World Wilderness Congress
“A work of art and of the heart!”
—Candace Sibcy, naturalist and nature photographer
“Listening to Nature gives people a dynamic experience of their unity with the natural world. I heartily recommend it to anyone who desires a deeper relationship with the Earth.”
—Alaska Natural History Association
“Powerful quotes weave inspiration and wisdom, setting a context for Joseph Cornell’s engaging practices to deepen our awareness, wonder, and joy.”
—Elizabeth Murray, author of Living Life In Full Bloom: 120 Practices to Deepen Your Passion, Creativity & Relationships
“[Joseph Cornell] is connected to the heart of our planet, and the Earth’s wisdom shines through him.”
—New Texas Magazine
“Reverence and respect for the nature life forces permeates Joseph Cornell’s writings. He shares . . . ways to experience the joy and expansion of being one and at home with our Earth.”
—One Earth, Findhorn Foundation magazine
“Joseph Cornell has a gift for sensitizing others to their natural world—and to their inner world.”
—Douglas Wood, author of Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth
“Joseph Cornell is one of the most highly regarded nature educators in the world today.” —Backpacker magazine
“Gives practical ways to learn how to focus the mind and increase one’s awareness of nature.”
—New Spirit Journal
“Inspiring quotations, each accompanied by exercises or brief teachings that serve as guides to a more intimate relationship with nature. . . . Each image [by award-winning photographer, John Hendrickson] is a meditation in itself.”
—Light of Consciousness magazine