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Connecting to Nature, Connecting to Self

"We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we have lost our connection to ourselves."

These are words I often remind clients, and myself, when seeking grounding and re-connection in life.

We are products of nature. Our bodies rhythm and flow, just like the cycles of the season. How is it then, that mainstream society doesn't highlight or honor this connection with nature? Why is making time for nature for so many Americans, and even abroad, seen as a "thing to do" instead of a way to be?

Because over time, we have slipped away from the nature of our beings and embraced "convenience" and concrete. While the advances of mankind are beautiful and promoting our evolution, we must remember to find balance in the simplicity of being. We are most aligned and at home, when we are in tune with nature and with ourselves.

So, how do we invite this connection to nature? How do we invite in nature as a way of life and not a weekend activity? What does it mean to be connected to and live with nature?

The very first thing we can do, is witness the very nature of ourselves.

This means taking 5 minutes of our day to be with and witness our breath. This means finding 10 minutes of quietude to slowly stretch and listen to what aches, pains, or freedoms live in our muscles, tendons, and body.

This means sitting on our porch for 3 minutes in silence, listening and drinking in any sounds of nature: children giggling, whispers of the wind, a bird's song, or just the sound of your breath. Feel free to journal or write down any reflections from these experiences for you to come back to and review.

The second thing we can do, is find and engage any nature around us.

Whether you live by the ocean or in the metropolis of NYC, there is nature somewhere close by. It might be as small as a single tree, a patch of grass, or as vast as an ocean of prairie grass or a cool dark forest.

Whatever the nature is, go out and spend time in and with it. Go to your local park, and if it's safe and comfortable, remove your shoes. Walk slowly and lightly among the grass. How does each blade feel against your skin?

Sit on a bench near a tree and take in the sound of the leaves rustling in your ears. Dip your hand in a pond and notice what it's like for the moisture of the water to encompass all 5 fingers and hold your hand weightless.

Take a walk on a trail and look up, what creatures, sky, or treetops are there?

Use nature as a gift to find PRESENCE in yourself and the moment. See how it affects your spirit, notice shifts in the breath or body. Write down any findings or reflections of this experience.

The third thing we can do, is take extended time in nature to dive deep into ourselves and connect with our world.

This third suggestion might be less tangible and harder for some, but if you can take 1-5 days off from work to go be, play, and soak in nature - DO IT! This could be a simple day trip to the woods, lake, river, mountains, whatever is the closest destination of "vast" nature. Whatever space you can find stillness, quietude, and allow the body to forget the sounds of cars, radios, SCREENS.

Maybe this means planning a weekend camping trip or a short retreat soaking in the simple joys of nature. Bring a journal, your favorite poetry, and allow yourself to not "do" but simply BE in nature. Embrace the simple actions of cooking, eating, breathing, walking. Dwell in the sounds, sights, and living things that surround you.

Other small actions for connecting with nature:

1) Buy a plant for you home! This is a beautiful way to bring nature into your space and create a relationship with it. Notice the plant everyday, what's it's watering cycle? How much sun does it like? Maybe it prefers to be in a quiet corner or in the vibrant loud kitchen?!

2) Utilize nature sounds for you morning or evening meditation! This can be either opening a window, sitting outside, or an app to hear the birds of Maui or the trickle of a mountain creek! While it might just be an audio clip, it brings the body a sense of calm and connection to nature through potent power of sound.

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