There’s no debating that connecting with nature makes us feel good.
According to Harvard, the health benefits of spending time outdoors include: increase in vitamin D (known for fighting osteoporosis, cancer, depression and heart attacks), increased happiness, improved concentration and faster healing.
On a spiritual level, being in nature enhances our sense of connection and community, vital elements for human existence.
In our busy, technology-driven lives, how can we easily connect with nature?
To help get you started, try these beginners steps to connecting with nature.
Go for a walk in nature
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
Along with Muir, many great writers, artists and naturalists have professed the benefits of walking in nature. From a health perspective, natural light promotes healing and happiness, fresh air is good for the lungs, and the calming pace of nature soothes emotions and clears the mind.
The meditative pace of walking leaves time to observe your natural surroundings. By walking in familiar surrounds, over time you’ll observe changes in the natural environment; perhaps trees losing their leaves in Winter, an increase in bird activity in Spring, tidal changes and moon phases. When we start to observe the rhythms and cycles of nature, we deepen our connection to the Earth.
Sit in nature
If walking is not your thing, then simply sit in nature and observe.
‘To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” ~ Lao Tzu.
Whether in nature you allow yourself to slip into meditation or increase your awareness on what is happening in the natural world, both provide an avenue for stilling the mind. Perhaps find a quiet spot. I find sunrise a great time of day for gratitude and intention setting, and dusk for clearing the mind of the day’s activity.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate vegetable patch or prize winning blooms, you can start small. Grow some herbs in a pot; weed and fertilise an existing (perhaps neglected) garden bed or plant a native tree in your garden. Most states in Australia have a Free Native Plant Program, so check your local council website for details. The very act of nurturing something instills connection.
Walk Barefoot on the Earth
Also known as ‘Earthing’, walking barefoot on the grass, sand or in water (particularly the ocean for it’s high magnesium content) balances out the positive electrons in our bodies from our technology-based lives.
Earthing is said to reduce inflammation, improve sleep, increase energy, lower stress, improve blood pressure and blood flow, and relieve muscle tension and headaches to name a few.
After a day in the office or indoors, kick off your shoes and walk barefoot on the Earth. Perhaps you can water your garden at the same time.
Become an Ornithologist
This may be a little unconventional, but as the mother to a budding little bird-lover I can vouch for the benefits.
Our home backs onto a nature reserve, habitat to an array of bird species. We also live close to the Bay – home to a diverse selection of shorebirds, all with their own unique characteristics.
Invest in a bird book and start identifying the native birds that frequent your area. It’s great education for little ones.
We have gone one step further and have a birdbath in the backyard. It enables my children to have a connection to animals without keeping birds in captivity. We have a few resident kookaburras and a cheeky butcherbird that are quite taken with the welcoming reception they receive.
Blind Contour drawing
Blind contour drawing places emphasis on observing the subject rather than the finished product. It heightens awareness and enables you to see the details of your subject.
You don’t need to be an artist to practice contour drawing. Take a pencil/pen and paper. Sit somewhere comfortable in nature and choose something to draw – landscape, flora or fauna. Spend time observing your subject – notice the details. Then without looking away from your natural subject, draw the outline in a single line. You can retrace or draw finer detail; all without lifting your pencil from the paper.
Contour drawing is a preliminary sketching technique used by artists to acquaint themselves with their subject. You’ll begin to notice intricate details that you may have previously overlooked.
Read more: http://www.wildplacesyoga.com.au/beginners-guide-to-connecting-with-nature/