We’re living in uncertain times and while you have to respect social distancing, getting out into nature for a bit can put you at ease, nurture your soul, expands your consciousness, and help you become more balanced while working from home. Moments in which you are surrounded by nature’s beauty are sacred moments—ones that we can appreciate now more than ever. Whether a trip into a wilderness, a forest where the sun is filtered by the trees, a red-rock desert or the landscape of a secluded ocean beach, you are welcomed and awaken to something extraordinary, not only to that which is before you but that which is within you.
Science tells us if you want to grow smarter, walk in nature. A study conducted by John Jonides, University of Michigan Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, found that when the participants returned from the nature walk, they showed a 20 percent improvement in mental performance but showed no improvement when they returned from urban walks. While science remains focused on examining the brain’s potentials for the sake of productivity, mystics, shamans, and poets teach us about the human spirit. Their words about nature offer us a more transcendent view of the relationship between ourselves and nature.
Along with the words of mystics, whose consciousness has touched the sacredness of nature, here are some practices to make your experience in nature truly enlightening:
Attune to Nature’s Power
“Nature is my medicine.”– Sara Moss-Wolfe
Nature transmits energies that seem to take the weight of the world off your shoulders while bolstering your consciousness. Nature’s power is creatively bursting forth with color and invisible vibrations the first awaken you and then subtly and by increments bring your mind, body, and soul back into balance. As you sit or walk in nature, acclimatize by breathing in the vibrations through your heart—see for yourself how much more alive you feel!
Feast on the Beauty
“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”– Alice Walker
The intrinsic beauty of nature is surely something to marvel at, absorb, and appreciate. As your eyes grow wider, after having cleared away cobwebs that obscured your view, you notice that colors are intensified and the symmetry of landscapes is more defined. Appreciation brings you an even more powerful perspective as your heart embraces what your eyes can only see. Practice appreciation by blessing the trees, every flower, and blade of grass at your feet and they will reveal even more of their secrets.
Let the Elements, Elementals, and Animals Guide You
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”– Albert Einstein
On your walk through the park, rather than forging your own path or following a well-treaded trail, let the rustling wind or the call of a bird guide you in another direction. Nature will beckon you forward to explore her mysteries in hidden places where you might stumble across something most wouldn’t have the opportunity to see. As you surrender your will to the call of nature, the natural world becomes your guide, nurturer, and teacher.
Commune with the Spirits
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”– William Shakespeare
Native Americans believe the rocks, trees, and flora contain the spirits of ancestors and the “relations” they call the animal spirits. From a shaman’s perspective, the rocks talk, the trees sing, and the ground tugs at your feet. While wandering through a nature preserve, the spirits come out to greet as well as to guide and teach you about your soulful connection to the natural world. Once the veil has been lifted from your eyes, you may notice an ancient ancestor’s face seemingly carved out in the bark of a tree. You may find a rock in the shape of an animal or a larger geological feature that resembles an animal sentinel placed by the Creator to oversee the workings of nature. Sit beneath such a tree or rock formation, close your eyes and feel the spirits that surround you. They will humble you with a profound sense of oneness and love.
Read the Signs and Recognize Metaphors
“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”– St. Bernard
The answers to the deepest questions can be found in the metaphors of nature. A tree with two trunks twisting upwards mentions you and your lover in a fond embrace, a heart-shaped rock sparks the dawning realization that it is love that binds everything and a squirrel busily collecting acorns may remind you to gather your own resources. More than just the product of your imagination, these are metaphoric synchronicities woven into the experience by your dreaming mind. You will witness how you and nature co-create an experience of profound meaning. You and nature are poetry in motion as you make your way gathering the messages to the deeper meaning of your existence. Look for signs everywhere you step and mull over the interpretation until the message becomes crystal clear.
Gather the Gifts
“Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.”– William Wordsworth
On your walk, nature may bestow a gift. A feather dropped from a flicker, a smooth pebble from a stream that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, a twisted branch you can use as a walking stick or as a prayer stick that you can decorate with feathers and yarn can become one of your most sacred objects. Indigenous elders teach us that sacred objects hold the power and spirit of nature within them. They refer to crystals, stones, claws, and sticks as medicine objects, some of which are carried around in a pouch. Symbolically, the gift nature bestows binds your heart to your experience in nature and reminds you always that you hold a piece of nature’s mystery in you forever. Honor it.