Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Relationship to the self defines the relationship to nature. For too long we as humans have defined ourselves as a separate entity to the natural world that needed to be controlled, exploited, and subjugated. Gradually the realization is dawning that nature is an expression of the divine and that we are an integral part of the whole.
Feeling, breathing, and aligning with nature during a deep walking experience is one of the most underrated and best forms of healing, especially when you might be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by all the negativity of the external world.
Aligning and healing with the help of nature
Some years ago I had a profound experience on one of my pilgrimage walks on the Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain. I started the walk feeling exhausted and stressed out. Inevitably my thoughts would wander back to the daily treadmill of life.
Then, in the following days, as I found my natural walking rhythm I noticed nature coming closer. I was starting to smell the grasses and herbs along the path. Birds would fly close by, stray dogs would follow me for part of the way. On the mountain tops of the Camino Primitivo giant vultures sat motionless a mere two arms lengths away.
I started practicing going in sync with my surroundings by attuning my senses to one element in nature at a time. It would either be the butterflies dancing ahead of me, the calming sound of a creek nearby or just feeling the sensation of a breeze against my skin.
Immersing in nature in this way, I found, has an enormously regenerative and calming effect on all senses. I practice these exercises in nature now as often as I can, having the added benefit of living on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean.
Science confirms the positive effects of the green and blue spaces
Several scientific studies have meanwhile confirmed that the connection with the blue and green spaces in nature has many positive physical and psychological effects. Humans are naturally drawn to a beautiful river or lake.
The Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, has been proven to reduce stress hormone levels and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Trees and plants emit substances called phytoncides which have been found to boost the immune system.
Studies by Qing Li, a Japanese scientist who has been carrying out shinrin yoku research for many years, showed that Forest Bathing increases the Natural Killer cell activity in people, with at least some of this effect coming from phytoncides.
David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, conducted a study in which participants saw a 50 percent improvement in creative problem solving after only three days immersed in nature with all access to modern technology removed.
We are very much a species that has lost its way, having become disconnected from nature while emphasizing technological advancement. It has become more pronounced in recent years with the addiction to digital gadgets with the average person in the United States spending about ten hours a day glued to a computer, smartphone, or television screen.
The sages of old, the Mystics and Shamans, have all tought us that nature offers so many important lessons if we would only stop and listen. Every significant place and and animal has a story and a legend. By reconnecting with nature we return to ancient wisdom, to a place of solitude deep inside – the power of the present moment.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker