Part 1 – Nature as Healer

© Dane Roubos, D.C.
A tranquil waterfall and pond in the deep forest, with sunbeams lighting a sunken statue of Quan Yin

Healing Nature – a tranquil waterfall and misty pond in the deep forest

Most people feel drawn to nature in some way. Some of us are die-hard nature lovers, attracted to anything from a potted plant to a remote, beautiful wilderness. Others may be drawn to a specific aspect of nature; water being the most popular.

What is it about nature that draws us? Exploring this for your self can lead to some valuable insights, so let’s take a look. Take a moment and imagine you’re having your favorite nature experience. Notice the “feeling” that comes when you think of this, and enjoy it for a couple of minutes before we go on.

If you have trouble connecting with a nature memory or visualizing it, try being with the accompanying photo, thinking as little as possible for a minute or two, with the intention of receiving it in your heart. It’s best to do this in a quiet place, without distractions. (Maximizing your browser window might help if you don’t see the whole photo)

Naming the “feeling” is not particularly important, but it’s often described as peace, stillness, unity, joy, love, etc. While all these are pleasurable, I think there is a lot more to our nature attraction than a pleasant feeling.

A Deeper Connection
Throughout our travels and backyard wanderings, Ariel and I have felt we were “feeding our souls” with nature, replenishing something that had been drained away by dealing with life in the complex, and often stressful, “civilized world” of human society.

I believe there’s another aspect of our attraction to, and need for, nature in our lives. Here it is (thunder roll please): consider the possibility that Nature reminds us of aspects of ourselves we’ve lost touch with, or forgotten. In other words, the good feelings we have when we’re around nature are naturally part of who we are. And these feelings, as good as they are, are probably only a faint glimmer of what is really there.

Deep in our soul rests a memory of our connection to Spirit, the Essence of Who We Are, beyond the confines of our body and mind. Here, we are whole and complete, without need for the conditional approval of society.

We embodied this sense of connection as young children, but gradually lost it as we adopted the beliefs of those around us, and learned to see ourselves as separate from God, Nature and each other.  Our preoccupation with the growing demands and distractions of the world also drew our attention away from this natural state.

Most of us have forgotten this early experience because of the strength of our developing mind and our culture’s belief in this apparent separation.  Spending quiet time with nature is a way to nurture this essential aspect of ourselves; keeping our batteries charged and our hearts connected to what is real and meaningful for us.

Even if you do not resonate with this idea, there are many benefits of spending time with nature in your favorite ways, particularly those which foster slowing your pace and quieting your mind. This, by itself, is known to relieve stress and improve health & well-being. You don’t have to be a card-carrying tree-hugger to receive some goodies from the trees!

Using nature to foster inner peace – a simple practice
The necessary ingredients are:
• A willingness to take time out from your usual activities, and allow yourself to be still.
• A quiet place in natural surroundings – it helps to have a spot or two close to your home where you can easily go for brief periods.

Get comfortable in your chosen spot.  If you’re sitting, it helps to have your back straight (rather than slouched), so you can breathe fully and easily.  Lying on Mother Earth is a wonderful way to absorb her calming energy.  If you’re adventurous, you might enjoy a comfy tree!

Make it your choice to engage with nature for a brief time, instead of the many thoughts that are likely to come, demanding your immediate attention. That stuff can wait 20 minutes, can it not? Use whatever time period works for you – as long as it’s enough for you to slow down and connect.  Even five minutes of good nature time can help you settle into a more peaceful space.

Allow your eyes to touch the beauty and life surrounding you, and open your heart as best you can to appreciate what is here in this moment.  Absorbing the simple elegance of a flower, cloud or water drop can soothe a stressful situation by bringing you back to the present from anxious thoughts about an imagined future.

No words or mental concepts are required. In fact, words and concepts tend to get in the way of a deeper experience of your heart, which your mind cannot grasp. Your mind can only think about your experience – it cannot have it.

Close your eyes and allow your awareness to drop beneath thought and words.  Nature’s sounds or a gentle breeze on your cheek might lull you into stillness.  Follow your breathing and simply feel what is in your body, your heart, and the earth upon which you rest.  When thoughts come knocking, simply notice them and return your awareness to your senses, body and breath.

Give this mini-vacation to yourself as often as you can, and let nature nurture your inner peace!

Peace & Blessings,
Dr. Dane

Go to: Part 2 – Cultivating Stillness

Go to: Part 3 – From Head to Heart