Connecting With Nature

I have always felt a connection with nature. When I was child I spent my days outside – climbing trees, peeling the paper off of the paper birch trees, splashing in the creek that runs through the backyard. Living on a wetland there was never a shortage of creature sightings – blue herons, beavers, muskrats, ducks. My parents still reside in the same house that I grew up in, and it is a joy to watch my own son experience these marvels for himself. He has a natural love for nature and is in his element when he is within it. There’s always something to climb, jump off of, and explore. His sense of adventure knows no bounds.

Boy and his dog in nature

Recently I began to feel a little disconnected. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until one day it came to me – I had lost that deep connection to nature that I once had. I knew this had to be remedied. I began a little ritual where I spend just 10-15 minutes out on the back porch first thing in the morning to meditate. I repeat this again mid-day or in the evening. We are lucky to have some beautiful vine maples, evergreens, and a pine tree right outside our back porch. Just watching as the sun slowly washes over their branches while it rises is nothing short of spiritual, and watching the sparrows flit about from branch to branch and listening to them talk is entrancing.

Today D and I walked through my parents’ property, which we have done many times before. But this time I slowed down and took the time to explore like D does. I noticed things that I wouldn’t have normally noticed – a tree resembling the shape of an elephant, small pears growing on an old tree, and the tiny clusters of pine cones from the red alder trees.

PearElephant tree

I even reconnected with my favorite tree from my childhood – a giant black cottonwood tree. This tree stands like a powerful guardian keeping watch over the land. I remember lying in the grass watching the leaves dance and shimmer like silver dollars. Even today this tree fills me with a feeling of awe. I felt compelled to wrap my arms around its trunk and literally give it a hug.

Black Cottonwood

Now that I feel like I have mended my relationship with nature, I want more than ever to help her in any way that I can. I’m on the lookout for volunteer opportunities and have pledged to be (even more) mindful about the choices I make that impact the Earth. By nurturing the planet we in turn are nurturing ourselves.

Tree hugger

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The Healing Power of Nature

When I was little I loved sitting in the backyard watching our giant cottonwood tree.  Like a green giant it would softly sway in the sky.  Now that I am older I hardly sit and look at trees anymore.  It is hard to sit and be still and not have a list of things that I need to get done going through my head.  But yesterday I did just that.  I couldn’t remember the last time I just lied outside and enjoyed nature’s company.  I grabbed a blanket and a pillow and decided to take an hour to myself while my husband hung out with D (our little guy).

As soon as I got comfortable on my blanket I immediately noticed just how difficult it was for me to stay present in the moment.  Even though I practice yoga, my mind became flooded with thoughts.  I tried focusing on my breathing to no avail.  Then suddenly I noticed our trees.  Like really noticed them.  In the three years that we have lived here I have never once just sat and enjoyed our trees.  But at that moment I took notice.

Cottonwood

I watched our own cottonwood trees bend to the wind.  I watched as their leaves glistened in the sun while they danced gently on the breeze.  I noticed how the clouds looked like little mounds of cotton slowly drifting across the bright powder blue sky.  I listened to the symphony of birds chirping and leaves rustling around me.  My mind became still as I took notice of these things.  My body relaxed and I felt a calm that washed over me.  By connecting with my surroundings, with nature, I was able to connect with myself.

Clouds

Just taking an hour to myself to sit outside and just let myself be was very healing.  I awoke today feeling more like myself.  I am now sitting outside typing this while D plays in the yard and my dog lounges by a tree, both of them connecting with nature their own way.  After all, they need some self-care, too.