This blog continues the May 2022 blog "Benefits of Grounding." In that blog, I talked about the multiple benefits of earthing and the health benefits of being in nature.
Let me start with this quote:
"You are comprised of 84 minerals, 23 elements, and 8 gallons of water spread across 38 trillion cells. You have been built up from nothing but spare parts of the Earth you have consumed, according to the set of instructions hidden in a double helix and small enough to be carried by a sperm. You are recycled butterflies, plants, rocks, streams, firewood, wolf fur, and shark teeth, broken down to their smallest parts and rebuilt into our planet's most complex living things. You are not living on Earth. You are Earth." Aubrey Marcus
From time to time, we instinctively feel the need to go to nature. Depending on our personality, some of us are drawn to the forest, others to bodies of water or mountains. After being in nature, we feel refreshed and rested. "Nature itself is the best physician," stated Hippocrates. Living in an urban area and isolated from nature and soil negatively impacts humans. This is why it is so important to have regular interactions with nature. In Native American, Indian, Chinese, African, and every other healing tradition, most of the healing occurs in nature or a place surrounded by nature. Japanese use Shinrin Yoku, or "forest bathing," as a healing method in the forest same as a Scandinavian " forest school." Indigenous healing traditions inform us that illness results from imbalances in our bodies. Most of the time, these imbalances result from our disconnect from nature. "And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul" John Muir. In the past few decades, with continued research, we better understand the healing effect of nature on our mental and physical wellbeing. Some doctors in Canada now "prescribe" free passes to national parks as part of the healing process.
In the previous centuries, some hospitals, especially sanatoriums specializing in treating tuberculosis and mental illnesses, were built in forest areas. Many practitioners are aware of some locations with special healing powers. These places expand all over the globe, from the Blue Lagoon of Iceland to the Medical Gardens of Belize, from Mount Shasta in California to the Dead Sea of Jordan and Israel. The healing power of nature is undeniable. In her 2019 paper, Vanessa Sacks wrote, "In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medicine." Many new hospitals now include "The Healing Gardens" in hospitals' architectural plans. "A review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states, "Viewing nature has repeatedly demonstrated to provide a range of benefits for human health and wellbeing. Benefits include reduced anxiety, reduced stress, shorter hospital stays, lower heart rate, and increased directed attention." That same review explains ... Nature sounds have been used therapeutically to relieve stress." (https://www.forbes.com/sites/lakenbrooks/2021/05/29/why-hospitals-are-planting-gardens/)
In his 1984 study, Roger Ulrich (an environmental psychologist) proves nature's effect on after-surgery recovery. Patients with the view of nature recover faster with less discomfort and pain.
Let me repeat some benefits of being in nature:
Reduce heart rate and blood pressure
Stimulate the immune system
Boost natural killer (NK) cells in the body
Reduce mental fatigue
We can bring nature inside our houses when we can't go into nature. Live plants in our homes can positively affect our lives. Plants could be not just decorative; some purify the air, others repel insects, and some enrich our space with oxygen at night. You can even have a small herb garden on your window sill. It increases our exposure to nature and also the nutritional and healing power of our food.
To have the full benefits of being in nature, we need to connect with nature and let nature connect with us. Nature is not just good for us; nature is us. When we are in nature, we need to focus not on making the required 10K steps but on fully experiencing that environment. As Native Americans say, "Taste the moment." For healing to occur, we need to put aside any distractions. We do not come to listen to our favorite band; we come to listen to the music of birds, leaves, wind, insects, and water. We come to recognize and embrace the miracles nature unfolds in front of us. We need to open our minds and engage all our senses. See the light dancing on the leaves, smell the breath of the trees, taste the earthiness of the grass, feel the breeze on your skin. Feel the connections and energy with every living and nonliving part of nature. "When you bring your attention to a stone, a tree, or an animal, something of its essence transmits itself to you. You can sense how still it is and in doing so the same stillness rises within you. You can sense how deeply it rests in being, completely one with what it is and where it is, in realizing this, you too come to a place or rest deep within yourself." Eckhart Tolle. Elders of the Navajo Nation said, "Be still, and earth will speak to you." When we connect with nature, we receive not only healing but the answers to our problems or concerns.
Let's talk about what happens when we spend time in nature. The latest research shows that we must spend at least two hours weekly in nature to maintain our health. (Study of 20,000 people, by the team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter. June 2019) Our body, our inner wisdom knows this; it is why we feel the need to be in nature. In nature, we feel spiritual connections; we feel peace. We feel like we have arrived home. It is why much easier to meditate in nature than in an urban environment.
I believe that phrase "going to nature" is not a correct reflection of what is going on. We are not visitors; we are part of nature. We are coming home to a place where we rest, restore and recuperate; a place where we feel safe and supported. As Rumi says, "We are not a drop in the ocean. We are an ocean in the drop." Millions of organisms live on earth, so millions live inside us. We are part of the amazing universe. Everything on the earth plays a part in this universal symphony. To better understand nature and the universe, we need better understand ourselves; in other words, by learning about the universe, we better understand ourselves. Aren't ocean waves moving in and out shore reminding you to breathe, inhale and exhale? When we start seeing earth as a living system, we can associate rising global temperatures with the same experience in the human body. Our temperature rises when we are ill; it is how our body fights infection. It is time to realize that our actions today disturb earth ecosystem, and earth responds with rising temperatures. It is time to take responsibility and help the earth heal.
Many times we can look for guidance by listening to our inner voice. But we can also ask nature, mother earth. Something that you can put into practice. I can share with you one of the methods that come from shamanic practice, of asking nature a question. You can do this when in the park or the woods.
Find a peaceful place. Stop, close your eyes, and take a few deep and slow breaths. Focus on your emotional state. Let the sounds and smells of nature around you bring peace and harmony inside you. When you feel peaceful and balanced, slowly open your eyes.
Look around with a soft gaze, scanning trees around you back and forth. Do you feel (not see) that some tree stands out? Do you feel drawn to this tree, an unexplained energy pull? It means this tree is ready to be a facilitator between you and Earth, between you and the universe.
Come to this tree, put your hands on its trunk, and thank it for the offer. You may feel a response in the palms of your hands. Focus on this communication. Feel as one with this tree. Feel your energy field merging with the energy field of the tree.
When you feel it is the right moment, turn around, align, and softly press your spinal column to a tree trunk. Focus on your sensations. When you are connected, you can feel the flow from the earth to the tree branches and from tree branches to the earth. Allow your energy to join a tree energy flow. You feel gravity stronger. You may feel like your legs and feet are sinking into the earth like they develop roots that go deep into Mother Earth. You are now in synchrony and harmony with nature. Express your gratitude and appreciation for this moment. Now you can ask your question. The answer could come in different forms, but you intuitively will know.
Now you can slowly disconnect from the tree, turn around, and again put your hands on the tree. Embrace it with gratefulness and thankfulness.
Why it may not work for you:
You choose the tree, not a tree that chooses you. A tree that you chose was not ready to communicate with you.
You can't hear the answer. Your mind is too busy with your thoughts and running different scenarios. It would help if you empty your mind to receive it.
Disclosure: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. Always consult with a qualified health professional.
June 1, 2023