Periodically I need to slow down, to rest and to get restored. We all do. And like so many people, for me this happens best outdoors.
Have you ever wondered why so many people are drawn to the beach? Even though they may only have a little piece of sand to themselves and may never go near the water, thousands of people go to the beach for the Nature: For the sun, the sound of the surf, and the beauty of the sparkling water.
Nature is food for our soul.
Nature is one of the ways out of our pain regardless of the source of the pain.
Even when you don’t recognize you are in emotional pain. Even when you are simply lonely or bored. Nature helps them all.
Although you may feel alone in Nature, it’s hard to feel loneliness when facing the quiet activity of the natural world around you. Instead, you often feel the marvel and the mystery of being part of something much bigger than yourself.
This brings a feeling of connection and even belonging that pushes loneliness and boredom away. Even without other people or entertainment!
You knew all this as a child and probably loved being outside to play, have fun and get dirty.
Connecting with nature doesn’t have to be an elaborately-planned outing or trip. It can be relaxing quietly in your back yard – lying on a blanket or sitting in a chair – just being.
Not thinking about the lawn needing to be mowed or the flower beds needing to be weeded or the trim needing to be painted. But instead to simply notice the colors, textures, sounds, smells and feelings surrounding you.
Did you know that people who watch clouds are more creative than those who don’t pay them any attention? When was the last time you just watched the clouds drift by? Or the sun rise? Or the sun set?
And there are scientific reasons why Nature helps…
Moving water creates negative ions which affect you at subtle levels, causing you to be more positive and relaxed. (Another possible reason so many of us love the beach!)
Being by or in water cleanses you, lifting your worries from your mind, washing away burdens from your body.
And gardening…. It’s called “dirt therapy” by many people.
Gardening is harnessing the magic of the earth. When we garden, we are co-creating miracles with nature.
Do you remember sprouting seeds in a Dixie cup as a child? You can feel that again by digging and planting in anticipation and then watching Nature grow with pride and joy.
When was the last time you visited the woods or forest? Fields or mountains?
Needing Nature more than ever
Our lives are gaining momentum every day. It is impossible to keep pace, and the more you try, the less healthy you become.
Your own human rhythm isn’t a natural fit for the pace of today’s world. Instead it’s natural for you to be attuned with nature’s rhythm.
I’ve been soaking in some sunshine and the sound (and feel!) of rain over my vacation time. I’m feeling renewed and ready to keep this slower pace going as I settle back into the work world.
How to soak in the benefits of Nature
Here’s how I’m going to keep the feeding of my soul from Nature going a little longer. Maybe you would like to try it too.
This is the approximate amount of time it takes for nature to return to “baseline” – for the animal life around you to forget you are there and return to normal behavior.
This is when you are able to gain access to the deeper layers of both yourself and the natural world.
If you find a Sit Spot that is easily accessible from your front or back door and no more than 20 steps away, it will improve your chances of getting there every day.
Even places in the heart of the city will work as long as you have some form of nature around you (plant and active animal life).
To lessen distraction, think ahead about the weather or temperature. Wear the right clothes for outdoors and use an umbrella if you need it.
Here’s what to do:
Focus on gratitude as you settle into your Sit Spot. Center your attention on your heart and send the energy of gratitude out into nature, throughout your body, and breathe. When you initiate this process, it is normal to have a racing mind, to wonder if you are doing it right, to run your to-do list in your head. Simply let those thoughts go and return to gratitude for all that is around you. Use the curiosity and fascination you had as a child to notice all that is around you.
This daily practice will cause a slowing down of your heart rate, improve the depth of your breathing and will expand your outer and inner vision.
Nature requires a wide-open view of both relaxed and alert that will shift you away from the single focus mode of screens and machines.
Over time, you are likely to find yourself finding new solutions to issues and embracing change. You are revitalizing both your body and your soul in Nature.
Rachel Carson wrote, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Let us know in the comments what strengths of yours you have found through Nature.