Integrating nature into my life has had a profound affect on my stress levels, health and overall well being. I know it is hard enough to find five minutes in your day to unplug and relax. The thought of making time for the outdoors may seem out of the question!
I started with baby steps. I tried small, simple ways to surround myself with nature on as many days as I could. These days I try to forge a bond with nature as often as possible. I make it a priority. It depends on what works for you in your daily life. There is no right or wrong here. The more you connect with the nature, the more positively it will impact your life.
Here are 4 ways to connect with nature:
Try touching the leaves, feel the bark of a tree, pick up a fallen pine cone, or plant something in soil using your bare hands. Our sense of touch is very powerful and it can deepen our connection with the earth. Really get your hands dirty! Notice the texture of the different leaves and the roughness of the tree bark. Notice the sharpness of a pine cone and the moistness of the soil. Interacting with nature in these small and simple ways will awaken your senses and can have a calming affect on the mind. Don’t worry, you can wash your hands when you get home
2) Walk barefoot on the grass.
This is somewhat similar to Touch in that it involves coming into physical contact with nature. However, the experience warrants its own category. Walking and even running barefoot have become quite popular amongst athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. The earth radiates actual energy that some research suggests can be used as a healing modality for various health related ailments. Give the barefoot thing a try if you are feeling it. Check out this Care2 article, The Healing Benefits Of Walking Barefoot for further information on this topic.
3) Go on a hike.
It is easier than ever these days to navigate the great outdoors. The Internet contains a vast network of hiking information and local trails near you. Many sites also include the experience level recommended for each trail and directions on how to reach the trail heads are usually provided as well. I always feel an energetic lightness in my mind when I finish a hike even if I’ve hiked it 5 times before. My body feels tired and my legs may feel like jello but my mind feels refreshed. The clean air, the creature sightings, the look-out points, the accomplishment of the physical climb, all contribute to euphoric sensations felt by the mind.
4) Pick a tree, and observe.
Bear with me, I promise this is a good one! There are so many trees in NYC’s Central Park but the one I have come to know best is rooted right outside the Shakespeare Garden. There is one specific bench I like within the garden that sits in full view of this tree. It might feel silly at first but observing trees can help us feel grounded and rooted. Whether ancient or brand new, trees grow a strong foundation for themselves. They grow to reach all different sizes and take on different shapes. They provide homes for insects, birds, squirrels and various other creatures. They go through cycles of rebirth and their existence creates clean air for the world to breathe. Observing a tree creates space in time to notice a tree’s behavior. How it remains grounded. How it sways with whatever comes its way. Instead of resisting, a tree allows itself to pendulate with the earth’s vibrations. Observing a tree can foster self-empowerment. It can nurture a deeper connection to the earth and aid us to internalize the flow that a tree exhibits. We really can learn a lot from trees!
The daily grind of our routines and obligations can create a distance between our essential human selves and the elements within nature. If you feel a disconnect with nature and the earth, carve some time out for yourself to try some or all of the suggestions above.
The Daily Om posted a beautiful article titled Respecting Wild Life. The article discusses our human connection with nature. I highly recommend reading this when you have the time.
How do you connect with nature? Please do share!
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