Well, partly it has to do with my words of the year which is about noticing the little things, such as this tree reflected in pub window with the golden winter sun:
Partly it’s because I know that connecting with nature is good for my soul.
Nature can be restorative, fascinating, inspiring, thought provoking, pleasurable, calming and even, apparently, immune boosting.
And it’s not just me, there are many people who agree with the benefits of nature. I know there are also people who claim that all you need to fix depression is a walk in the countryside. I do not believe this. I do believe that it can help but mental health is very complicated and an hour of fresh air will not cure it.
Frederick Law Olmsted, in the 1800s, wrote about how being in nature allows your attention to be aroused and the mind occupied without purpose. This experience of being occupied without purpose is important if the rest of your life is filled with stress, worry, to do lists etc. It allows your mind to relax and mull and very often come up with solutions or ideas. In the same way that you’ll be doing a crossword, get stuck and then find the answer comes to you when you’re in the middle of cooking tea. Your mind is still pondering it but without the intense spotlight on it.
“There is wisdom in the plants and trees and rocks and the Earth below us but we cannot unlock it if we don’t connect and listen” – Rebecca Campbell
Noticing the little things in nature allows you to pause for a moment – really see/hear/smell/taste/feel as appropriate – the flower, tree, rock, river. And I find that a really powerful thing for my soul. It makes me stop and I feel a sense of calm, if only for a brief moment.
Nature is filled with metaphors for the human existence and perhaps connecting with nature will help you find reassurance, peace, ways of explaining yourself etc.
Connecting with nature is all about using your senses. We tend to rely heavily on sight but practice can help you open up a greater awareness of the world around you.
“If you make connecting with nature part of your daily practice, you will awaken your senses” – Rebecca Campbell
Miles Richardson writes about a project which asked people to write down three good things in nature each day for five days and the impact on the health of the participants.
In an interview for the BBC, Richardson talked of the health benefits of nature including reduced hypertension, respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses; improved vitality and mood and restored attention capacity and mental fatigue. Further, feeling a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety.
If you’re interested in nature and health, his blog is a good starting point.
“Nature teaches us about the power that comes from allowing ourselves to grow wild and be passionate” – Sandra Ingerman