Nature is our greatest teacher.
As humans, our birth immediately begins a layering game of personality, desire, and materialistic attachment. This is not necessarily bad, this is just the way humans tend to begin and carry their journey. These attachments and desires are prominent driving forces in our journey through life. When we have something, we fear losing it. When we need something, we fear the inability to attain it. We want, need, fear, rush, argue, fight, etc. most often because we either have but don’t want to lose or don’t have but desire. We do not want these things to matter; but they do.
This is desire. This leads to discomfort.
The natural world is our connection to what is beyond the physical world; whatever that may be for you. Nature roots our bodies and minds. Nature reminds us what beauty is. Nature allows us to find who we are. Nature heals. Nature allows us, if even for a moment, to step away from these worldly attachments and find our inner strength, inner beauty, and inner world.
Nature shows us that a moment is temporary but there will be another. Nature teaches us that we can find beauty and understanding in losing just as much as in gaining. When a tree’s leaf falls, the earth becomes colorful and trees become light for snow. The tree’s loss is temporary. It does not desire a new leaf but flows through the seasons awaiting a new leaf’s return. Nature guides us to where we are and pulls us away from our desire of wanting to be somewhere else.
A tree grows from a seedling. Nurtured by the soil of Mother Earth and drenched in the nourishment from the clouds a seedling blossoms. As it grows, this future tree does not layer itself in attachment. It grows; with a moving stillness; moment to moment subtly growing but staying where it began. A tree roots into its earth and spreads out to its world with beauty and joy. A tree takes on wind, storm, snow, rain, creatures, and even young children exploring its beauty. Sometimes trees fall; sometimes they break; sometimes they get cut down. Its roots remain; its stories live on; its journey changes but continues with continuous beauty. A tree has no money. No things. No worries. No deadlines. No to-do’s.
This is nature.
Of course we are not trees. We are not grass. We are not a mountain or an ocean. We have roles and tangible things and desires and fears. You do not have to get rid of them. But when we find natural connections we can learn the lessons they have to teach us. When we experience nature, we can practice grounding. Watching. Experiencing storms and growing from our losses. We can practice experiencing life without attachment to things that do not really matter. We can practice rooting to where we came from and extending out, with beauty, into the world around us. When we step into nature, we can step back into our human world with more clarity and peace.
You do not have to be an outdoor lover to reap the benefits of natural connection. Looking at imagery of nature or even having a plant (even a cactus) can have the same mind body effect as being immersed in a natural place. Exposure to nature, in any form available to you, will allow you to practice eliminating attachment and finding calm in your world.
Find a place of nature that you enjoy. This may be an outdoor space. This might be a seat near a potted plant. This might be in your mind imagining a favorite natural place. This could even be a picture online, in a magazine, or from a vacation.
Begin by noticing your connection to the earth. Feel where your feet touch the floor. Imagine where the floor touches the earth. Imagine your feet rooting down into the ground. Take time to experience this connection. Notice the air around you; notice the season, temperature, moisture, etc. If you are looking at an image of nature imagine what this would feel like if you were sitting in the image.
Do this for all of your senses.
Notice the sounds around you.
Notice the colors. Notice the shapes/lines. Notice the textures/layers of nature. Notice the light or absence of light.
Notice how you feel. Notice how you feel mentally, emotionally, and any physical sensations.
Notice what you smell. You might pick up some leaves or flowers and smell them. You may wish to smell a fresh stream or even notice the smell of a tree or rock.
Do you taste anything here? Think about how your tongue and mouth feel. Notice if your mouth is dry or if it feels nourished. Note if you can taste rain or snow or imagine drinking in sunshine.
Practice whenever you need. If your natural place does not bring you the same healing in changing seasons, try to notice that or use a picture or other imagery. For instance, I enjoy spending time on my back deck spring-fall. Winter does not offer this same experience with bitter cold, ice, and snow. I can still connect with nature by looking at a picture or connecting with an indoor plant.
Nature calms a distracted mind. Nature grounds an anxious body. Nature comforts a saddened heart. Nature reminds us. Nature teaches us. May you find a beautiful natural place to just be.