Connecting Ourselves to our Natural Environment
Updated: Jan 2
Paying attention to small details
Probably all of us have heard that nature is the ultimate healer. Nothing compares with the peace that comes from enveloping oneself in nature. As poet Rayner beautifully put it: From “the snow that falls so soft and light, to the waves that ripple to the shore, the peace that comes from being in the arms of Mother Nature is serene and calming.” She reminds us we all can see the beauty of nature reflected in the everyday.
Most of us think of nature as significant outdoor areas like the sea, a river, or forest, but I think nature is everywhere we can observe life: in the day-to-day changes of a leaf, or the roots re-growing in the small water-plant on an old cup. They can all help us feel in nature, in connection, or as part of the life we observe.
Richard Louv once said, “Nature-deficit disorder is not the presence of an anomaly in the brain; it is the loss of connection of humans to their natural environment.” We could feel disconnected in the jungle’s immensity or find a connection in the smallest garden, where we can still witness life’s cycles on it: Some plants are born healthy and beautiful; some need attention to survive, and some others cannot help but die. And when they die, we accept it as a way for a new life to sprout.
Qualities of Mindfulness – Acceptance to what needs to happen
Seasons, weather, wind can all change the delicate balance of nature; just as happens with us. Stress, anxiety, negative thoughts can all play a part in how our balance is broken. We rarely question nature’s responses; we accept them as part of a bigger process that “just has to be”. We should do the same in the garden of our mind. There are things we cannot control like death, illnesses, people not loving us any more, but we can accept them as a natural part of our life’s cycle. There might be things we can do to prepare before something happens (to some extent) and change the way we respond after happening, but we don’t need to add an extra worry or pain to the fact that this or that happened to us, “in the worst moment it could happen!”
One positive effect of being connected to our nature comes from accepting that something is part of our life: We protect new opportunities so they can keep growing; we identify projects/relationships that need our immediate attention to survive; and allow to die everything is already dead and hurting us. Accepting our present reality as it is doesn’t mean giving up our options to carry on, quite the opposite! Once we understand our cycles, we will know what’s the best next step for us in that moment. Most of the cases I have felt stuck in a situation was because I refused to let go something was already not mine: Harmful relationships, poor jobs, tough cities, etc.
Another positive effect comes from separating our reality from what is created by our fears, worries, imagination or anger; not to eradicate them but to give them a controlled spaced in the garden of our mind where they can live. What we create with our worries or fears might not be real, but the mind creating them is! The thoughts and worries will keep coming and coming. We decide to make them an uncontrolled weed or a beautiful Azalea we enjoy watching.
So, how can we start connecting in and with nature?
We only need to do nothing. Not too easy, right? Let’s try the following:
Choose a place, space, corner you can sit comfortably and observe nature
Be quiet: Turn your mobile phone and music device off
Notice details: Observe the small details of your chosen piece of nature – Its colours, shapes, texture
Avoid creating stories, narrations, dialogues about anything, just observe
Take your time, do not rush: Observation and silence need time to feel comfortable in our mind
Forget about expectations: We have not idea what will happen next and that’s OK!
If a moment of awkwardness comes, embrace it: Give it some time to feel comfortable doing nothing else but observing
Notice your breath: if your are holding your inhalation, consciously exhale as slow as possible
…and remember: “Sensations” won’t come to your body right away, but the calmness of silence in nature will look for a place to install itself within.
In my journey to the garden, I saw a beautiful miniature lime tree. I noticed all the signs of life on it from small flowers, turning into small green fruit-wanna-be balls, and then becoming yellow ready-to-eat small limes! I used to observe it for several minutes every day. I realised everything works in such a coordinated and peaceful order: None of the steps could happen without the previous one. None of them needed to rush.
After I tasted it, I thought this is the kind of flavours you can get when you trust the process, the cycle, your cycle of life.