Have you ever been out in a natural setting, like a woodland, beach, along a river bank or up a hill, and felt, well, just better for it?
There’s a reason for that.
Actually there are many!
I think it can be helpful to know why certain things we are innately drawn to doing can help us feel better, so, that’s what this series of blogs is all about.
Natural settings, like woodlands, help us remember that we are a part of a larger, interconnected and interdependent whole.
Humans cannot and will not survive without nature.
We need clean water to drink, nutritious food to eat, and oxygen to breathe.
And as seen in previous blogs in this series, we need natural environments to remind us to breathe deeply and reduce our stress levels.
Natural environments also demonstrate to us the importance of balance and cooperation, the importance of everyone playing their part.
A woodland wouldn’t survive long without the worms and microbes of the soil to break down the fallen leaves, releasing those nutrients back into the soil for it to use again for growing new leaves.
And the soil structure wouldn’t exist for the worms and microbes to live in, without the trees to protect it and prevent it from being washed away in the rain.
Natural environments remind us that life exists in a natural cycle and helps slow us down enough to reconnect to that.
The days, the seasons, the years – these are all measured out and lived in a natural setting.
And they are lived in the now.
A tree in high summer, full verdant green leaves, is living in this moment, now. It is full on activity, photosynthesizing, producing sugar, growing, strengthening.
When autumn comes, it doesn’t cling to its leaves, lamenting it’s lost youth and the days of summer, it releases.
As winter sets in, daylight hours shorten, it doesn’t try to ‘power on through’, grow, photosynthesize with no leaves; it rests. It conserves its energy. It waits.
And as the weather warms, and daylight hours build once again, it doesn’t compare its progress to the trees around it, it doesn’t hurry itself, telling itself it’s falling behind, it’s going to miss out, it’s losing. It buds and flowers and unfurls its new leaves in its own time.
A tree doesn’t judge itself against its neighbour, finding itself lacking in beauty, or intelligence, height or species!
And we don’t judge trees or flowers in this way either.
This cyclical pattern also ensures that whenever we enter a natural setting, like a woodland, there is always something new to see, or hear, or smell, or touch. Life is constantly happening and change is to be expected and welcomed.
These natural environments hold our attention without taxing our brains or demanding too much mental concentration from us.
In this way they allow us to rest and reset our brains, and bring us firmly into the now.
‘Being in the now’ may sound familiar to you – it’s the aim of meditation.
So being out in natural setting, like a woodland, is a very natural way to meditate.
Spectrum and pace of life
Being out in nature reminds us of the joy in the variety of life, and allows us to see ourselves within this spectrum.
It also reminds us that our modern western human desire for hustle, competition, besting and bettering others, constant doing and growth, is not that of the natural world.
Natural settings, like woodlands, remind us of our needs for rest, for being rather than doing, and for cooperation, connection and collaboration with others for living happy and fulfilled lives.
For more information about the benefits of natural environments, and woodlands in particular, you might like to read https://www.woodlands.co.uk/Woodlands.co.uk-HappinessGrowsOnTrees-Feb13.pdf
Get out in nature
If you’d like to get out in nature and experience some the connection and meditative state benefits for yourself, why not join me on Tuesday 20th July for a guided Forest Bathing Experience?
More details and tickets can be found here: