Protect the Planet, Save Ourselves

By Rebecca Brown

Material resources like clean water and soils for growing food are critical to protect, but they’re not all we get from the earth. A large and growing body of research points to the importance of nature to our own well being.  Time in nature can spark our creativity and intelligence and be restorative to our physical, psychological, and spiritual health.

The research suggests the more we rely on the two-dimensional world of computer and cell phone screens, the less fully we engage our senses. Our awareness and attention atrophies, and we’re less able to find pleasure in the real life that surrounds us. Even though technology can link us anywhere in the world in an instant, our actual connections are shrinking, and there is a negative effect on our physical, mental, and societal health.

The poets knew it long before the scientist, but the empirical evidence shows that time in nature healing to the heart and soul. It’s calming, and boosts creativity and problem solving.  It connects people with others, and reconnects people with something bigger than themselves. It can invoke our spirit sense, when we drop our own internal chatter and open to the energy in the natural world around us.

I invite you, now that spring has finally arrived, to find a place outside, whether by a pond or on a hillside or under a tree, and sit. Begin to tune in one sense at a time.  Close your eyes and count every different sound you can hear. How many different bird songs? Is the breeze touching the grass, or dry cattails, or distance tree branches?  Feel the weight of your body on the ground, your connection to the earth.

Open your eyes and look carefully at everything around you, observe the nuances of color, texture, and shape. Feel the grass, the twigs, the bark of trees. Allow yourself to be immersed in the world around you.

While grand views and spectacular sunsets are wonderful, the power of the natural world is right in front of us in the smallest ways, too. You can just sit and feel and observe deeply, no hiking, no counting steps on your Fitbit, no destination necessary. Just be. I promise you will discover magic there.