7 Ways To Strengthen Your Connection To Nature And Improve Your Health
The shamans now that nature has a great ability to bring healing to any issue we are working on. Nature brings grounding, nurturing, holding, calmness and many other important traits and energies to us. There's more and more science to back this up everyday.
Nature Can Help Us Heal
Here's a quick summary from About.com on the health benefits of connecting to nature:
Scientific studies have shown that forests and other natural green environments have positive health benefits. After spending time in these types of surroundings, people report having a reduction in stress, anger and aggressiveness. Recovery time from stressful situations is faster in natural, green surroundings than in urban areas. Natural surroundings have also been found to improve mood and reduce depression. Still more reports show that spending time in nature helps to lower blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and stress hormone levels.
Other health benefits related to forests and other green areas are immune system improvements and a reduction of ADHD symptoms in children.
Ariadne Green talks about why this is true:
Nature transmits energies that take the weight of the world off your shoulders and tune you up a notch in consciousness. Nature’s power is creatively bursting forth with color and invisible vibrations the first awaken you and then subtly and by increments bring your mind, body and soul back into balance. As you sit or walk in nature, attune by breathing in the vibrations through your heart and see for yourself how much more alive you feel. A dose of nature is medicine.
Strengthening Your Connection To Nature
There's many different ways you can establish this connection to nature. It can be very helpful to us on several levels to establish a language with nature so that we can understand what she is trying to tell us and to be able to accept her support. Below are a few suggestions:
Get involved with nature personally
There are many ways you can get out there and connect to nature. You can:
Plant a garden - when we cultivate a garden we can make a deep, soulful connection with it and mother earth.
Nautre Walks and Hikes - Spending time hiking through remote sections of forests, or just along a publich path gets you in a place where you can hear the river flowing and the animals scurrying around. This will make you more aware of the beauty that is all around us every day and how precious our role as humans is on this planet. I especially like to hike at night in rain and snow. Bringing in those elements helps change my perspective just a little bit more.
Go Swimming in a pond, lake, or ocean - Jump into the water and feel the force of the flow and the beauty of the abundance you are sitting in.
Bird Watching - Sit out in a field and work with nature to see the birds in their area. Each bird has different energies that can teach you lessons.
Photography - Use your camera to zero in on details that you might not have seen otherwise. Close ups of leaves and branches can be stunning, and when you hang them in your hose you will always have that moment, and connection, available to you.
Clean up an area - Get out there and clean some of the trash and debris in an area to help nature grow.
Volunteer at a perserve or zoo - Help others enjoy the beauty that you see in these places and it will reinforce your connection.
Learn about nature
If you are going to be spending time in nature, it is a great chance to learn more about it. This will help you appreciate the smaller things and how important they are. You can read books, watch movies, listen to podcasts on specific topics, then take that knowledge into the wild and see how it applies. Maybe you want to learn about trees, bring a piece of paper on your walk and try to identify as many trees as you can. If there's some you can't find, then take a picture and bring it home. Find out more about it and maybe do a small honoring ceremony specific to that tree next time you visit. You can also focus on plants, fish and other wildlife, or the types of clouds above.
Listen for a welcoming message whenever you arrive
This is something I've been doing for a while and it helps me feel very connected. When you first arrive somewhere, it could be a park, a driveway, a town square, stop for a second and listen for something from nature. It could be a tree creaking, a bird chirping, or some water flowing, but at almost any place you visit you will be able to hear something.
Read nature myths and watch movies on nature
These will help you learn and bring you closer to nature even when you are riding in a bus or sitting on your couch before you go to bed at night. Those reminders can really help settle your system down and allow you to hear the birds chirping outside a little bit better.
Do Qi Gong, Tia Chi, Yoga outside
While doing these ancient techniques to get your body moving and focus your mind, being outside will help enhance those grounding moments. You can feel the wind and hear the river as you breathe in and out and those roots you plant in the ground for certain moves and postures will feel more real. Nature will be supporting you as you go through your movements.
I have a favorite spot in a local forest that I love to meditate by. The picture is the one at the top of this post. When I'm doing my breathing to start I sometimes focus on the sounds around me to calm my mind. I try to take in how beautiful the existence of all that around me is and I honor its presence. Then I'll listen for messages. I may ask for a help from an animal totem and see what shows up. It could be a hawk, a fish, or a butterfuly bringing me my message. It always helps me and on the walk home I feel calmer and more alert to my surroundings.
Hold an honoring ceremony for nature
Taking time to honor nature is one of the most important pieces we can do to deeply connect. Realizing all the beauty and help she brings to our lives will helpus see it more clearly. There are many ways to do this honoring, here's a few:
It is a tradition on some Native American cultures to leave tobacco as a token of gratitude to the land
Pour some water out and say a prayer of thanks
In certain areas it could be good to leave a little food for the animals in the area. A bird feeder in your back yard, some nuts and seeds for squirrels in the winter, ....
Have a ceremony to honor the land. This could be a fire ceremony, a despacho, a prayer gathering....
One of the best boosk I've seen on this subject is Ted Andrews' "Nature Speak" where many of the ideas in this post came from.