In times of profound changes, we lose the ground of our familiar life. We may experience intense uncertainty, anxiety, and grief. Nevertheless, every significant transition is a chance to come closer to our true nature and find new forms of life that can potentially accommodate it. This book is written in a silent dialogue with the jungle that can inspire us to discover the beauty of our wild, free souls. It explores how the wisdom of nature, can help us find an inner source of deep knowing. It is a book about the transforming and healing beauty of the Indian tropical forest. It is an invitation to an inner journey of self discovery in a dialogue with nature. It is a contemplation of a natural landscape that uncovers unknown areas of the inner landscape of the heart and soul. The book unfolded organically in a silent dialogue with nature, during 16-months retreat in an Indian wilderness, in times of the pandemic lockdown. The real author of the book is the tropical forest. Agnieszka Konopka translates the expression of the jungle and its inhabitants into the psychology and spirituality of transition, and human language.
Dr. Agnieszka Konopka, holds a PhD in psychology of emotions and specializes in work with people who experience major life transitions. She is psychotherapist, meditation teacher and forest life change retreat leader. Agnieszka is the founder of Compositionwork method and training, Cambridge University Press Author, and featured Routledge author. She is a former Associate Director of Portland Institute for Loss and Transition. Agnieszka gave up her ‘worldly life and career’ to live and work in presence, in a direct connection with nature. Agnieszka has been giving workshops, and retreats internationally (The Netherlands, Japan, China, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Denmark, USA, Bulgaria, Belgium, UK, Portugal, Spain, and India.) She uses her multicultural experience to inspire others to explore different lifestyles and possible positions. She is editor (with professor Hubert Hermans and professor Miguel Goncalves) of ‘Handbook of Dialogical Self Theory and Psychotherapy’ (Routledge). She is co-author (with professor Hubert Hermans) of ‘Dialogical Self Theory’ published by Cambridge University Press.
Meditation on Fear (from the Jungle Retreat Book)
- Snake Meditation: Body
Observing our fears in the body through physical sensations is the most direct way of knowing them. We need to meet our fears directly, confront them. Then we do not need to meet the world through our fears. Relating to the world through fear makes us fearful. Relating to fear directly makes us fearless.
When you feel anxious or experience fear, you can use this fear as an object of meditation:
- Take a comfortable meditation position and pay attention to your whole body.
- How do you know through your body that you feel fear or anxiety? Just watch it with full attention and curiosity, observe how your fear is creeping through your body. Where is it moving? Where do you feel it?
- What kind of physical sensations of fear or anxiety do you notice? How can you meet fear through your body moment by moment, breath by breath?
- Does it have any pattern or form? Notice its color and texture. Shape, size, weight….
- Watch it. How does it change from moment to moment? How does it fluctuate from breath to breathe?
‘In my view, nowadays, it is an urgent necessity for humans to reconnect with the natural world in and outside our psyche. We often live as if we were separate from nature. It creates a state of alienation and illusion fabricated by civilization. The soul is a part of nature, and it communicates through the language of natural symbolism. It is nurtured by natural life, as Carl Gustav Jung insisted. But when we disconnect from nature psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually, we lose connection with our souls. Our civilization, our life in the city, control over the natural environment, instrumental approach to the earth separates us from this life source. By being alienated from nature, we become alienated from ourselves. Abusing nature, we abuse our life. Destroying nature, we destroy ourselves.
Our civilization desperately searches for power in abstraction since we are disconnected from natural power. Such abstractions can be money, science, concepts, stories, or imagined futures. Many people lost the connection with the earth, with the animal’s wild and sacred power inside, replacing them with the air of intellect and abstractions. This is a form of “zombification.” The blood of direct perception is filtered by concepts and abstractions, and it coagulates. Blood becomes opaque, and life becomes blank. In this way, societies of zombies are grown. Life disconnected from nature becomes a museum of life, not the real thing.’
From The Jungle Retreat Book, by Agnieszka Konopka
Agni: When the curtains of my thoughts open up, I can be deeply touched by the unspeakable beauty, presence and abundance of nature. It transformed my own life, it showed me the way back home to my true nature. In this book I use the lessons of nature, 20 years of experience as psychologist and my involvement in spiritual practice of meditation and yoga to inspire and encourage others on their paths of transition.
Black Babool and Emotional Wisdom
Acacia (Babool) can hurt, heal, and it can also teach! It can teach us how to move through our inner jungle of emotions. Something that hurts us may heal us, depending on the manner we relate to it. If you struggle with your fear, it can paralyze you or block you. The struggle will only add more unrest and suffering. When you feel depressed and fight with it will only add heaviness to the feeling. If you try to deny your anger, it will only grow until it may explode at an unexpected moment. If you ignore grief feelings, they will live in your body as a heavy load that prevents you from moving on. But when you meditate in stillness on the movement of your fear, it can reveal a dimension of peace that goes way beyond fear. If you can approach your hurt with compassion, just sensing its energy in your body, it can heal. When you can hear a message enclosed in your sadness without judgment, it can make you wiser, showing what matters to you and what you are missing.
From Jungle Retreat Book