Norway is a country covering over 300.000 square kilometres – slightly smaller than Vietnam, slightly larger than Poland – with an extraordinarily low population. We’re just over 5 million people, giving a population density of 16 people per square kilometres. This is the same as Finland and Saudi Arabia. We have vast areas that are uninhabitable, or at least hard to inhabit. Nowadays most of us live in built up areas, towns and small cities and yet most of us retain a very close relationship with nature.
Norwegians love hiking through our amazing landscape. Mountains, plains, forests and sea shore, we love it and get out there as often as we can. We love skiing, snowboarding and parachuting – in fact any outdoor activity. In summer we can often be found in boats or small holiday homes in hard-to-get-to places. Sometimes we can spend time in nature and go days without seeing another person. With all this space, it’s easily done.
Most Norwegian children attend nursery from the age of 1. They will spend a great deal of time outdoors, rain or shine, as we believe fresh air is good for you. We have a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. During the weekends these same children go with their families on day long hikes. Nature is in our blood.
But what has this got to do with meditation? Well, just as we Norwegians are taught to love nature from a very young age, so are we taught to meditate. We are a nation of meditators. Who would have guessed? We spend time in stillness with nature, all year round, listening to her and ourselves. We spend time observing, accepting the changes we see around us. Changing seasons, violent storms, magical aurora borealis and gentle summer nights, we are there, immersed, embedded and present. This is the background for Moon Journal 2018, this is where the book is anchored.
Even indoors, when the evenings start arriving earlier and earlier, we sit by our windows watching, contemplating, the slow passing of time from day to night. Once the darkness has fallen we light candles and use soft lighting to preserve the feeling of half-light, the magical time in between light and darkness. We read, listen to music, talk and savour these times. For us, the dark winter season is very much a time of peaceful, harmonious celebration.
If you ask Norwegians about meditation they will most likely think of sitting cross-legged, changing ‘ohm’ and say they never do it. But if you ask them to describe their experiences of nature, it will become evident that we meditate. We are mindful, present and still. We savour our connection to Mother Nature, no matter what name you choose to give it. Most Norwegians will simply say they like being outdoors, they enjoy being in nature and that they are active people.
If you ever get the change to visit Norway – really visit – then please do. You will be amazed. And while you’re here, ask people about their connection with nature. Watch how they behave when they get out there in the wilderness. And feel it for yourself. Meditate the Norwegian way with the setting sun, or the raging storm. I’d love to hear your reflections, and your experiences of visiting Norway!