Keeping Yourself Healthy: Spirit, Part 3

4. Connection to nature: Nature heals. We are from and of nature. To remind yourself of this connection is grounding. There is much research suggesting that green spaces are healing to people and decrease anxiety and depression. This is one reason people are encouraged to walk outside in their neighborhoods while maintaining social distance. Not all people have the capacity to go outdoors during this time, but there are many ways to connect to nature. Remind yourself daily of the gift of life.

Use your many senses to take in the beauty of the earth that surrounds and cares for us. How does the earth sound in this moment? For example, you can wake up early and listen to the birds or step outside as dusk nears and you will hear them again. If you cannot go outside, listen to a recording of birds or the ocean waves, or as one astronaut who spent considerable time in space shared, the “buzzing of the mosquitoes.” Find a sound of nature that resonates with you. Notice what you hear. How does the earth feel in this moment? When you wash your hands, notice the temperature of the water you dip your fingers into, the smoothness of the soap and the softness of the towel. If you are outside, guess at the temperature of the day as you appreciate the sun warming our earth or gray clouds readying for rain. Touch a tree or a rock and ask yourself what texture and shape you experience. Notice what you feel.

How does the earth smell in this moment? Perhaps you smell her in the beverage you are drinking or the fruit you are eating. If you go outside, do you smell the blossoms perfuming the air? Or how the air smells different after a lightning storm, a new rain, in winter or on a hot summer evening. Notice what you smell.

How does the earth look in this moment? Perhaps you notice the light shaft filtering through your window and reflecting off the dust in your home. Maybe you see the many hues of green in the leaves and grasses outside your home. Look up and wonder at how blue the sky seems or how much brighter the stars appear with fewer cars and factories turned on. Notice what you see.

How does the earth taste in this moment? Some cultures do not talk during meals in order to fully focus on the experience. There is a meditation exercise in which you take one raisin and spend time looking at it, the color and the shape; then smelling it; rolling it in your fingers and then in your mouth to discern the texture and how it changes. Only after looking, smelling and feeling do you start to chew, listening to the sounds as you chew, tasting the flavors that evolve across your tongue. Notice what you taste.

If you are feeling depleted, bring nature into your space, a leaf or rock can do. If you are more confined, look out a window at the sky or search through a magazine or online to find a picture of nature that brings you joy. The national parks offered a beautiful series of photos on their website. This week celebrates Earth Day’s 50th anniversary.

What a gift to be reminded of our connection to the earth.