Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that man could understand reality through the study of nature. In his famous 1836 essay Nature, Emerson wrote of naturalism as a highly spiritual discipline.
“Nature is not fixed but fluid. Spirit alters, moulds, it. … Know then that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect.” –Emerson
We all know that nature is extremely important but, with busy lifestyles and staying cooped up indoors, we may have forgotten that nature has not been canceled. So, how do we reconnect with our natural surroundings?
Reconnect to your Natural Surroundings
- Walt Whitman was, inarguably, one of the greatest naturalist poets (1819-1892) so, if you’re looking for some nature-inspired wisdom, pick up a copy of Leaves of Grass ASAP.
- Wherever you live (even in a metropolitan area), try to get outside for a walk in the fresh air. Go to a park, garden, forest, or field (wherever there is open space and greenery). Some people believe that just being in nature is a kind of prayer, a sort of meditative act, so breathe deeply and get some Vitamin D!
- With spring here, the flowers are starting to bloom, and what could be more glorious? Even the tiniest crocus is a mighty creation.
(“Close up of leaves” at Glacier National Park by Ansel Adams, 1942)
- Get quiet. Turn off your phone and try to be alone with your thoughts (no texting!). Even if you do this for 30 minutes a day, you’ll feel more centered and less anxious.
- Take some time, by yourself, to go for a brisk walk but make stops along the way (to sit, amble, think and reflect). You may even want to take along a journal or notebook to write down your thoughts.
- Bring a little piece of nature inside with you: pick a blossom and put it in a vase by your bed as a beautiful reminder.
- Go to the beach. Whether you swim or not, simply sit on the sand and watch the hypnotic waves. This has a surprisingly calming effect. Don’t forget to gather shells or sea glass as a memento.
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
― Lord Byron
- We all need a little alone time to unwind and decompress (and, of course, some need it more than others). Not only is this sort of rest physically good for us, but it’s also essential for emotional and psychological wellbeing. Sometimes we just need a nice break—with a cup of coffee and a nice scenic view.
(“The Tetons and the Snake River” by Ansel Adams, 1942)
- Nature helps us to slow down and examine the wonders around us. It helps us appreciate the little things and the smallest details (a patch of soft, green moss or the veins in a leaf). It’s with the appreciation of these perfect, untouched natural objects that we are able to approach life with greater ease, for Mother Nature knows what she’s doing and, at the right time, gives us what we need. Emerson wrote to “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”