The Healing Power of Nature
I recently had the opportunity to spend three days by myself in nature during a particularly challenging time in my life. It wasn’t lost on me that even though I had scheduled this time alone in nature before the challenge arose, the timing seemed to be a gift granted me by the Universe to heal my heart. I planned to use the time to be productive and do some writing, but once I found myself hurting, I decided to throw all plans out the window and let nature have its way with me and I’m so glad I did.
I’ve known since I was a child that nature is a spiritual, magical place for me. It’s where I feel most alive, most myself, and the most connected to everything in the universe. I often wonder how people who don’t like to be outside or don’t enjoy solitude and silence survive this life. Perhaps this perspective comes from being an introvert, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that people can’t benefit from time alone in nature.
As I drove to north-central Minnesota, I could feel presence envelope me as I watched hawks fly overhead and leaves dance and spin to their final resting place. I determined that I would do my best to be present for these three days and made myself a promise that I wouldn’t be productive. If I was to do anything beyond putting one foot in front of the other, it had to be creative because I believe creativity, like nature, is healing. I spent many hours walking trails and listening to the sound of leaves rustling, tall pines groaning in the strong breeze and the slurping sound my boots made when they sank into the muddy ground. I took photos, I lay on rocks, I meditated, I touched trees, flowers, moss and plants. I was never once conscious of what my heart was feeling or if it still felt broken, I just trusted that I was under the tender care of nature.
When I returned to my cabin, I drew pictures of what I’d seen on my hikes. I wrote stories, made fires and stared at the beauty of the burning embers. I was still and silent and it was glorious. When it came time to leave, I noticed a lightness inside of me that had been missing for a long time and the closer I drove toward home, the more I could feel the lightness and presence slowly drain from me as the thoughts returned of what I needed to do to get us ready for the week. I felt sad at this loss of presence, but a bit hopeful that since I was aware of it perhaps I could capture it once again.
I asked myself why we can’t be in the space of silence, stillness and nature more often. Why have we as human beings set up so much of our lives to keep us from these most natural states of being? It feels so blatantly wrong to spend our time on this Earth doing anything else.
These are just the random thoughts of a human being that questions her place in a society that doesn’t seem to honor the natural world and all the connection and spirituality it provides us. Why are these experiences the exceptions in our lives rather than the norm? I’ll likely be pondering these questions until the next time I’m able to return to the stillness and solitude of nature where they will be brushed aside by presence. At least, that’s my hope.