5 Ways Embracing Nature Can Help Overcome Life Challenges

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Five Ways to Embrace Nature in Overcoming Life Challenges

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows in trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” -John Muir

By Meryl Best Lowell  

All of us have challenges, some big, some small, that we have to face in life.  When your heart is heavy or your mind is full of a swirl of thoughts, embracing nature can soothe us and help us more effectively overcome, or at least get through these challenges.  Being in nature helps us to regain perspective and if we pay attention, brings us into the present moment, ushering in a sense of equanimity.

1. Look to the sky.

Witnessing the beauty of a sunrise or sunset can fill our hearts with a sense of awe and appreciation.  It can reconnect us to the natural rhythms of our planet and help keep things in perspective. Taking the time to sit or lay down and watch the stars evokes similar feelings.

2. Hug a Tree

When you feel overwhelmed by strong emotions or are feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, find a tree.  Approach the tree and put both hands on it. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth.  Feel the bark with your hands. Notice if the bark or leaves have a scent. Keep taking slow deep breaths. Appreciate the tree for both its strength and flexibility.  Ask the tree to share its strength and flexibility with you. Symbolically, leave what is weighing you down with the tree. Hug the tree for as long as it feels good and thank it for its beauty and for providing shade and oxygen.

3. Listen to water

Find a stream, a lake, or the ocean, or a good rain storm.  First, look at the body of water or the rain drops as they fall.  Notice the patterns of the waves or watch the raindrops as they fall.  Let yourself be mesmerized by the rhythmic motions. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.  Become aware of the smell of the rain or body of water. Next, listen to the sounds of the water. Continue breathing slowly and deeply as you keep your attention on the sounds.  Notice how you feel after you have put all your attention on your senses.

4.  Meditate in nature

Find a spot that feels comfortable to you, whether it be at the top of a mountain, under a tree, on the beach, in a meadow, or on a park bench.  Sit as comfortably as you can with your spine straight. Close your eyes. Begin by taking a couple of cleansing breaths, breathing in through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth.  Feel your body or your feet in contact with the earth. Notice if there are any scents in the air from the sea, or pine trees, or flowers. Pay attention to the scents. As random thoughts occur, just bring your attention back to the scents you smell.  Next, put your attention on any sounds you hear. Are there waves crashing? Birds chirping? Cows lowing? Just notice any sounds, without thinking about their source. Finally, focus on the area between your eyebrows. Continue breathing slowly and deeply.  When you feel complete, take a moment to notice how you feel.

5. Do a gratitude walk

A gratitude walk in nature can shift your mood very quickly.  Find a place in nature and set out with the intention of noticing and expressing gratitude for things that you see for which you are grateful.  Use all of your senses. Notice any sounds that bring joy to your heart, any scents that make you feel happy, any colors that resonate with you as you walk.  When you see a bright red cardinal, thank it for making an appearance in your life. When you see a flower or tree that makes you smile, send it gratitude. Whenever I see a feather when I am walking, it reminds me of my grandma, and I smile, say” hi”, and thank her for the wonderful memories.

These simple techniques need only take a few minutes but can transform the quality of your day.  Give yourself the gift of embracing nature to help overcome challenges.

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