Albert Einstein once claimed, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” Since forever, we’ve always known the great benefits of spending time in nature for our body and mind. Many ancient civilizations and indigenous peoples like those native to America cultivated a deep and reverential relationship with nature. Recent research has shown that spending time in nature can help us feel happier, while also contributing to our overall well being. So, how do we spend time being mindful in nature? How do we make our connection to nature soothing and meaningful? Walking in nature is one strategy that can serve as a form of meditation as we let go of wandering or concerning thoughts and absorb new energies from our surroundings. Let’s explore more.
Because we’re spending so much time on “directed attention” activities through our screens, phones, and at work, we need to disconnect in order to create new patterns of attention for ourselves. When heading into refreshing surroundings outside, don’t bring your phone. This way, we can begin spending time in nature and receiving its benefits with intention and focus. Research from Harvard Medical School has revealed that spending two hours a week in nature can have powerful health benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety. So, do try to recharge yourself outside and embrace the beauty of the nature around you.
Many philosophers, artists, and politicians spend time walking in nature to get new ideas. As we spend time outdoors, we release endorphins which are associated with pleasure and our wandering thoughts tend to slow down when we take in natural surroundings. Maybe new growth on the trees around you inspires you to write, paint, or start something with a fresh perspective. By opening up our mind, heart, and soul to nature, we can spark our creativity and welcome those new ideas.
Sometimes, when we feel lost, we may find ourselves stuck on our screens or on our phones in search of some relief or direction we may or may not get. Spending time in nature, particularly through silent meditation retreats, can help to restore us to ourselves, reconnect to our soul, and build resilience in order to face the world anew. Nature, while powerful, does not judge us and we can focus on the beauty of the trees, the stillness of the woods, the calmness of the rivers, feeling out the full extent of our emotions. Walking mindfully in nature can also provide health benefits such as reducing cardiovascular risk, deepening our sleep, and improving our general health.
Spending time in nature can allow us to cultivate a spiritual mind, as nature and spirituality are forever linked. As we breathe in fresh air and feel the grass beneath our feet, our connection to the earth deepens and we can remember that nature will be here for us through the best and worst moments of life. Through observing nature, we can begin to open ourselves up to deeper meaning from experiencing love, to accepting ourselves, to moving on from the past, and more. Tranquility and reflection await us in nature if we can embrace its true spirits and work to foster our connection with ourselves.
Nature can offer us a welcoming and comfortable space to process our emotions. Accepting our vulnerability, we can grieve in nature, looking deep within ourselves and finding meaning and purpose anew. Our hearts can become light again as we’ve released our sorrows into nature, sometimes experiencing near immediate and powerful relief as we wander the woods.
As part of my daily meditation practice, I often spend time in nature both alone and with friends in order to absorb new energies. I grew up surrounded by trees, animals, and energies that built up my creativity. Whenever I felt sad or lonely, I wandered around parks, listened to the birds, and watched the sky, feeling restored, rejuvenated and like I could move on with my grief. Walking two hours in the woods has given me great relief from stress and anxiety and has allowed me to open my heart to welcome the present without judgment. Grounding myself in nature, I feel more connected to myself and my spiritual practice, making me stronger, more joyful, and present.
We can allow ourselves to reconnect and enjoy our truest selves through nature. It’s possible to relieve our body, mind, and soul from worries and open ourselves up to love and joy in nature.