Allow this meme to act as a signal–as a sign–in your life. You want to be more peaceful, you want to slow down and reconnect, you want to feel more natural. Well then, start by feeling more of nature itself. Let’s not forget, the concept of cities and buildings are still very new to human beings. A massive part of your brain was built around being out doors.
Whether it’s a walk to get something you might otherwise drive to, or maybe a lunchtime park-walk with a co-worker, or even just paying a bit more attention to the trees and grass while watching a child play their outdoor sport. The idea is to get your busy egotistical thoughts out of your head where they create suffering, and instead use your awareness to take in all that nature has to offer–including more peace of mind for you.
Make your choice now. Take action to enact that choice at the appropriate time today, and then know that you have taken actual steps forward, toward your psychological and spiritual goals. By simply dedicating some small amount of time to intaking the world rather than filling your consciousness with words, you will gain significant benefits both immediately and over time. Breathe.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
There is a much easier way to deal with life than the ups and downs of the roller coaster that most people voluntarily climb onto every day. Everyone today has big problems and they’re looking for big sweeping solutions. The habit has become to seek some grand catharsis, or to see a doctor for an answer-all pill, or to come to someone like me in the hopes of suddenly finding clarity or enlightenment, as though it’s a quick cure and not a way to practice living.
It’s as though we collect rocks from every negative experience and we put them in our pockets and over time they weigh us down. We keep looking for someone outside of us to assume responsibility for all of our rocks when our low-consciousness finally notices that they’re really weighing us down. Enough rocks can really slow your progress. Then things can get really heavy and you can eventually find it difficult to even move, and if still nothing is done there can be physical consequences.
Another less-drastic option is to maintain your being and your life. That is to say, rather than battling disorder and disease you can instead nourish and nurture health. Whereas the battles tend to be ugly and have victims, the maintenance of health is often very enjoyable and rewarding. So you can collect rocks and then look for someone to dump a pile of them on, or you can go for a walk every day and drop a few out as you go, by yourself. That’s called empowerment.
Last year while working with an organisation that promoted both nature and wellness, I was surprised to learn they had never encountered the Japanese idea of shinrin-yoku. Itliterally means forest bathing. As I’ve noted in posts for years now, walks are not idle efforts. Careful scientific study has externally proven what anyone who spends time in nature knows internally: nature has an impact on us.
These impacts include things like pheromones given off by trees, the soothing quality of the sounds of running water, and even the general quality of the air because of course plants and trees are really the cleaning system for our atmosphere. Our exposure to nature also provides opportunities for unexpected experiences with other people and animals, which can be much richer experiences than just sightings.
When was the last time your bare feet touched the Earth off your own property or not on some beach? How often do you walk barefoot around the nature in your own neighbourhood? Kids used to climb dozens of trees and develop all sorts of useful spatial awareness skills but now there are many kids who have never even been allowed to attempt such a connection.
Touching a tree, smelling a flower, skipping stones on water, seeing the sunlight dapple in through the leaves; these are all very old very human experiences. To trap ourselves in a world of right angles, where everything is labeled and processed and pre-set is to live in an inhuman world. Comfort is not nature. Nature addresses both the outsides and the insides of us.
I have been unable to walk through my nearby beloved ravine for about a week now. It’s rare that I’m so busy that I can’t create time for doing nothing but walking and breathing. I often do sessions walking through it and for good reason. If you don’t think nature has much value to your psychological and spiritual goals, I can assure you that anyone who spends a lot of time in nature will clearly indicate its value if it’s removed from their life. They will immediately start to feel weighed down by small amounts of stones that you’d never even notice in your busy world.
Go for a walk. Skip some of your own stones across a pond. Commune with a duck. Hug a tree. Wade in a creek. Because bringing a smartphone and looking for Pokemons is fine, but being distracted in nature is to miss the point. Your life is all about efficiency and sense and value but how does that look like it’s working for everyone?
People have never been more stressed. Meanwhile, if you pay attention to the mountain climbers, the naturalists, the hikers and the campers in your life they will all share a uniquely healthy spirit. That isn’t them being more successful than you as a person; that’s them being more connected to the world as an aspect of their own nature. You can do that too.
Forget concepts and roles and responsibilities. Join us. Join the universe. Find your own nature. And make sure you toss a few stones out every single day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
You don’t remember being born. Who knows what mysteries the people who carried you travelled through? You slowly wake along the way. Whoever forms your family moves along the road and you move with them.
Eventually you are able to walk yourself and you join the jostle of humanity that shares the road with you as a part of their own path. You learn it is possible to slip and fall and scrape yourself. You even see some step off the edges in the steeper sections and they are gone. If you watch where you’re putting your feet you’re fine. But if you forget where you are it’s easy to trip.
During your journey you will come to wonder where it is everyone is going? What is the purpose of this walk? What will happen when we arrive? Much of what your fellow travellers have taught you now comes into question as you interact with the other pilgrims.
Some of these people are funny, some are exciting. Some are beautiful, some are ugly. Some are kind and some are cruel. At least for while you’re with them. Over time you develop your own attitude about walking and you find that the pace of your steps–the frequency of your being–leads you to find yourself walking in sync with other travellers who take a similar view. This is friendship, or what is sometimes called The Law of Attraction.
You will love some fellow travellers and some will be difficult to be around. Sometimes there’s enough room to escape and sometimes the road is simply too narrow. Some people scream back at the fellow walkers who they do not enjoy. Others plug their ears, others try to run and still others attempt to change the other walker’s attitude.
No one chooses who they share the road with. Sometimes you would rather have fewer people around, sometimes you’re alone and you long for others. Everyone does all these things–it’s a long walk. And where you are is where your steps have taken you, but where you end up won’t depend on the steps you’ve taken, your future will depend on which steps you currently are taking.
Some people simply walk. They ask few questions and they accept what other walkers claim is true. Others exhaust themselves running all over the path trying to make sure they never miss anything–but they do anyway. The crowd forces you to keep moving. It’s the nature of the road.
Other people are always looking around and questioning their fellow travellers. They are driven by their curiosity about where the road is leading. The ones who wonder about their destination marvel at those that don’t. And the people that don’t have the desire to answer that question wonder why people would spend the time questioning instead of simply talking or walking? Of course neither is right or wrong. They’re just different kinds of walkers.
During your walk it is inevitable that everyone will occasionally lose focus and trip and fall, and everyone will also have places where the path is washed away and we are required to make leaps that simply exceed our ability to jump. In most cases the closest of our fellow travellers are quite excellent at picking us up and carrying us when those times happen. You will do some carrying and you will be carried. This is the nature of the road.
Eventually you will find you have a weakness, or you will suffer an injury–or maybe you just walked a really long time–but eventually you notice yourself slowing down. More of the other walkers are now passing you on their own way. You slow to a crawl, and you begin to very seriously question whether or not you will ever reach your destination.
Some people realize it sooner. But everyone, before they die–whether it comes slowly in a hospital or quickly in an accident–everyone has the moment where they suddenly realize that they have never seen any other walker reach their destination either. And it is then that even the most unexamined life will come into focus and you will realize that you were never actually going anywhere.
Eventually you’re either carried or you lay down, but there’s a point where you simply cannot go on. This is where you “stop.” It all seems so arbitrary and yet it is so profound. Peace envelopes you as you realize that during your entire journey, the road home was home, and that hallowed place you were trying to reach was where you had always been. All is well. Welcome home.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.