Birds. They are signs of nature. These days I am learning a lot from birds. I see them flying and admire them for just leaning into the winds and letting themselves be carried by the endlessness of the sky. Sometimes it seems as if their cries intend to creep right into my bones, stirring my blood, calling me to scan the blues for their appearance, just to see them soaring effortlessly above my head.
Sometimes it feels as if birds are talking to me, reminding me of who I truly am:
of the earth
let your tears flow
let them clear your vision
as you let them go
let yourself be carried
by the storm's
the squeaking trees
leading with grace
as they twist and turn
let yourself be carried away
into the air of possibilities
to rise above the limits of your mind
trust the universe
is always kind
your soul has wings
that help you land on solid ground
as you stand breathless
deeply in awe
feel energy inside, around
when calm hits water
you will receive
how to align
as you believe
you'll get your sign
a bird, a word
a deer, a sound
follow their lead
trust that we know
which paths you need
to fully bloom
to always grow.
This morning I took my usual weekend walk after a week filled with work. A job that I have done for quite some years now. A job that provided me with much learning, growth and financial stability. Like a child who got everything it needed to survive in this world, I somehow have outgrown this kind of lifestyle. I am now finding myself dreaming of the possibilities of flying. Of reaching for the stars. Of packing my bags and embarking on the biggest adventure of my life.
Just as I was lost in these thoughts, I walked past an empty birds nest and it seemed to whisper:
“You can only fly if you dare to leave the nest.
You’ll never know if your wings can carry you if you don’t try.”
I smiled. What a nice sign! Suddenly thinking of Peter Pan, I asked myself, what is the fairy dust that actually helps us take action for big changes?
What if I fall?
There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, "What if I fall?"
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?
- by Erin Hanson
The answer came to me as I watched a falcon, jumping from a tree, being carried away into the clouds by the invisible hand of the winds. All it takes is a leap of faith. A leap is a jump, performed lightly. The word has its root also in the word run, go and dance! When a bird is taking its first flight, it has to take a leap and just open its wings, and the wind will take care of the rest. Have you ever consciously watched a bird flying? I find it amazing how it moves its wings once only to then sail across the sky, gliding for minutes. There is no effort when we trust in the unfolding of our lives, just a feeling of flow.
Freedom and flow are deeply intertwined. Birds flow with the winds, and flow with the seasons. If they resist the course of nature, they wouldn’t be able to survive. Surrender means that we are living in flow. In order to flow we have to be ourselves, as only with authenticity there is no restriction to what we can achieve. If we aren’t clear about who we are and what we want, our flow will be interrupted by some obstacles. This is a necessary process, but once we have cleared all of the obstacles, oh, what a beautiful feeling flow is. Flow creates bliss inside of us! What if we could expand those tiny moments of bliss that we feel in our life?
Birds are for a reason often associated with freedom. A bird believes in its own ability to fly. In order to fly we have to believe in our abilities and trust that we won’t fall. Without faith, there is no way we can surrender to change. If we know deep inside of ourselves that nothing can go wrong and if we believe that no matter what we are experiencing, that everything will work out for us, we will have the courage to jump.
The word freedom derives from the old English word freodom and means power of self determination, state of free will. So if you know that you are the creator of your own experience then you can never feel unfree.
T.S. Eliot states:
"Freedom is only truly freedom when it appears against the background of an artificial limitation." [T.S. Eliot, "Reflections on 'Vers Libre'"] I love the term "artificial limitation here", because it states that there is no such thing as limitation, it only exists in our human minds.
To know that we are the limitless creators of our own reality for me is the biggest feeling of freedom ever. Shifting the focus from reacting to creating - different words, same letters - is the most empowering act ever. Unfortunately, people are so used to reacting that it is a real challenge to shield ourselves from the limiting beliefs of others. For me, one way to strengthen my faith is watching out for signs.
Signs. I am always looking for signs as they guide me towards the wisdom of my soul. I believe that the animal world and nature are the biggest bearer of signs. We are all part of Mother Earth. We are born out of the womb of the universe's kind and loving smile. All animals, all plants , we are all connected. The food we eat comes from the earth and through us goes back to earth. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks about this cycle in his book "Fear". "Looking deeply into the vegetables, we see sunshine is inside them, a cloud is inside, the earth is inside, and a lot of hard, loving work is also there in the food before us. Looking in this way, even if no one else is sitting down with us to share that meal, we know that our community, our ancestors, Mother Nature, and the whole cosmos are right there, with us and inside of us in every moment. We never need to feel alone." For me, in every tree, in every animal and in every seed there is an entire universe.
Seeing signs mainly shows me that there is guidance that is provided especially by nature. The seasons guide us to nourish our bodies with special food for special challenges during the year. Thus the freshness of a watermelon, having its peak in summer, provides us with the precious water that we need when the sun is burning down on us. The abundance of the harvest provides us with lots of nourishing food for the cold and vast wintertime. Nature takes care of us all year long. We often don't see it.
Taking part in a manifesting challenge in order to improve my visualization practice even further, I learned a wonderful lesson about signs that I am happy to share here with you.
In the challenge I focused on manifesting financial abundance, intending to broaden my imagination about how money can flow to us in unexpected ways. As someone who has worked so far in a very secure job I was curious and excited about this exercise. We were encouraged to ask for a sign that we are on the right path. As someone who is always paying attention to signs I thought this would be an easy task. So I thought about what my sign would be.
As I often see deers and herons, I decided that seeing these animals would be too easy. Thus, I asked for a special encounter with a bird or seeing a special bird that I don't see that often. Birds represent freedom and financial abundance provides a certain kind of freedom to do what I want throughout the day, so for me this was the perfect sign.
The first day went by and nothing really happened. The next day I sat in the garden, reading and thinking about my sign, as I suddenly became very aware of all of the birds that were around me. My phone buzzed and when I checked, my sister sent me a post, sharing that our local animal protection company was asking for citizens to count birds that day. I chuckled. Suddenly the magpies were chatting with each other, and some crows flew by. The ducks in the pond behind my garden laughed with me. I wondered - did all this count as a special encounter? A bird called a blue tit (yes, I know, this is a funny name, but it’s true, look it up, there are blue tits and great tits in Europe!) suddenly landed on my fence, chirping happily in my direction, and looking right at me. Then a blackbird did the same. Was this my encounter? It felt special, as they seemed to stare at me, but these are birds that I see all the time. Suddenly I heard a familiar but seldom tapping sound. I looked up and saw a colourful woodpecker in the tree. Was this my sign? This is a bird I don't see very often.
At the end of the day I was confused. Was there a clear enough sign? I decided to pay attention during the next few days too, and to let it go. Four days later, I saw several deer, herons and lots of singing birds, as I embarked on a morning walk in my community. Typically I would find two herons, a grey heron and a great egret, as well as a few deer, some ducks, geese and the occasional falcon. I woke up in a bad mood due to a weird dream and a way too early wake up call from my cat. As I walked along the canal I searched for better feeling thoughts and listened to meditative music in order to raise my vibration. At first there were no animals in sight. A few minutes later a cormorant sailed gracefully through the sky, turned around and came back to cross the space above my head once more. After a while I relaxed more deeply and some deer showed up in the distance. Peeking between some bushes I thought I had seen a heron, so I stopped and tried to focus when suddenly a chirping sound caught my attention. It was so loud that I could hear it despite the music on my headphones. I turned around and a great tit sat in the tree and talked to me. I took off my headphones and started to talk back to the little fella. It encircled me, hopping from tree to tree while constantly tweeting away. I smiled. This could be my sign. A special encounter, although it was a bird that I always saw. The interaction with this little one was too intimate to not see it as a sign, yet it didn’t seem to be a really special encounter. I had expected something bigger.
Nonetheless, I picked up my pace again, rather elated. The little bird constantly followed me. Some geese flew across the sunlit sky. As I stopped to take a picture of the wonderful rising sun, a jaybird crossed my way. I turned around to walk again when in the distance a falcon drew its preying circles. I smiled. So many birds. Was the great tit my sign or was there an even better encounter? As I walked down a road that I have never taken before, a few sheep were lying in the grass, bathing in the subtle warming rays of the January sun. They looked at me and when I stopped to take a picture they arose and ran towards me in excited expectation. I think they believed I had some food for them but their curiosity for me was warming my heart nonetheless. I went on with a feeling of anticipation inside of me. Somehow I felt I was close to something magical happening. For fifteen minutes I walked guided by the water reeds bowing their heads in the rough winds seeing nothing new but a few singing birds in the trees. Suddenly I looked to the right and there were about ten or more herons on a meadow, indulging in the fruits of the floodplains. I was mesmerized. I have never seen so many herons in one spot. And then I had to laugh about my limited, human mind.
As I had asked for a sign, the universe sent me a thousand and I, being used to thinking small, had not seen the abundance of signs around me. What a reflection of my very limited beliefs around abundance and money! I realised that this was the Universe showing me that money doesn’t have to come from one big source but can flow to me through several little wells that add up in a symphony of abundance. I understood that abundance is all around me, that it is simply there, in the present, as a present. Ulla Suokko explains in her book "Signs of the Universe" that we can "at any given time choose to see a sign and also choose it to be a good sign. We do have that freedom, first, to choose to pay attention and to see the signs, and second, to interpret and decode the signs through our own intuition and ways of knowing." Given that we are all connected and all come from the same source, we share this earth with animals and plants, the universe is communicating with us through everything that surrounds us. As Thich Nhat Hanh shared with us, we never have to feel alone again if we remind ourselves constantly that our souls are connected to everything and everyone around us. The Universe leads the way. We are the ones that have to walk it, but by letting us be guided by nature we will find the way. With the constant use of GPS systems we have forgotten to follow the leadership of our inner and outer nature. Our own intuition as well as the knowledge of stars and other natural guideposts have been forgotten. As Richard Wagamese, an author and journalist from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, writes so beautifully: "Keep what's true in front of you, Old Man said. You won't get lost that way. I was talking about making my way through the bush. He was talking about my way through life. Turns out, all these years later, it was the same conversation."
If we know who we are, deeply believing in our own power, loving ourselves fully, all we have to do is to spread our wings and fall into the wind. If we can let go of everything that holds us, we are truly free. If we strip away the layers of our conditioned selves and lay our bare, pure souls on the altar of life we will be able to fly into realms that we thought would never be possible to experience.
I am your sign, sings the bird.
I am the signature of the universe.
What if you just fly?