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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Be With Nature



As I lay in the hammock in my backyard, a big yellow butterfly passes by, capturing my attention. I am immediately transported to a world of floral delight, fluttering from flower to flower. I feel the wind blow and begin losing myself in the movement of the leaves mixed with shadows in the tree above me. After a few minutes I gaze through an opening in the tree canopy and concentrate on the passing clouds, each animated shape becoming alive before it dissolves into the blue background. A mocking bird calls me back to Earth and then the melodic sound of the waterfall entrances me with its gentle rumble.

Take time to be with nature, time to be one with nature. The above backyard meditation is easy to do. Just sit quietly and observe your surroundings without commentary. Use your senses and explore the wonders of the natural world.

The ocean is my sanctuary,
Where I return like rivers and rain,
Reminding me of the greater whole,
from whence my soul once came.


No matter how far mankind has tried to distance himself from nature, the fact remains that humans are a part of nature. We live in a time where people have learned to spend most of their day disconnected from Mother nature. In the modern world, we spend time in a variety of boxes that separate us from our natural surroundings. There is the house where you live, perhaps spending half your day or more inside this domestic box. There may be the building where you work, and some of you even have a little office or a cubicle box. There are the mobile boxes such as cars, buses, and trains. We spend our time moving from one box to another, keeping ourselves as far away from nature as our money can buy.

Watching nature is viewed from television sets and computers. The art of sitting outside, relaxing, and just being with nature is becoming uncommon. The electronic age has taken over our minds, luring us to spend countless hours watching TV, connected to the Internet, and glued to our cell phones waiting for the next text message or tweet. Our minds are being hooked by audio visual electronic stimuli to the point where we have tuned out what we feel with our body and the smell and taste of our food because we aren't paying attention. We are forgetting the purpose of having a physical body is so that we can experience the world through our senses.

Not all of you are caught up in your boxes, but most unhappy people have this in common. If you are one of those people, get out of your box! By getting fresh air and sunshine you will give yourself a boost of happiness. Take a short walk, read outside, go for a hike, go fishing, camping, biking, or just sit quietly outside taking in the sights and sounds. You will begin to reconnect with the natural world. You'll begin to notice your habitat and surroundings. You'll become aware of and even stop to watch birds and butterflies. The more you can incorporate being outside in nature, the bigger the emotional reward will be.

Besides the relaxing benefits of reconnecting with nature, the human body benefits from sunlight itself. The amount of sunlight we receive affects our levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is absorbed through exposure to sunlight. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D may cause some people to feel symptoms of depression. So sunshine can actually brighten your day emotionally! Take a few minutes every day to bask in the sunlight and renew your spirit

When we take time to connect with nature we recharge our spirits and relax our minds. Being outside encourages us to use our senses as they were meant to be used: experiencing our surroundings. We give ourselves the opportunity to feel the sunlight, rain, and wind. We can experience the sweet sound of bird songs and be a witness the miracle of flight. We can dig our toes in the sand at the beach, or smell the freshness of damp grass on a summer morning. Being with nature allows us to be present, which reduces stress and rejuvenates the soul. Increase your awareness of your surroundings and you may be surprised how much it enhances your life.


Lesson #26:

Being with nature encourages presence, which reduces stress and rejuvenates the soul.

Exercise:

Spend some time everyday outside. Incorporate outdoor activities as much as possible. Practice being with nature. Learn to hear the sounds, distinguish the scents, and appreciate the sights of the the natural world. If you find thoughts of the past or the future coming to mind, refocus on your surroundings. This exercise helps train your ability to focus and to be present while rejuvenating yourself at the same time.

Simple outdoor meditations:

  • Sit quietly, close your eyes, and listen to as many distinct sounds you can sense.
  • Watch the movement and pay attention to the shadows of the leaves in a tree.
  • Close your eyes and see how many distinct scents you can sense.
  • Sky watch. Gaze at the clouds or the stars.

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