Connecting to Nature

I’ve noticed more and more the restorative and calming power that there is in connecting to nature. I think that’s what we do right when we’re on holiday, and then we let it all go when we settle back into our busy lives. When we’re on holiday we stop and watch the sunset. We find time to acknowledge and appreciate it. We have a drink while we absorb it all. We look at the view. We take a walk and admire the scenery. We get out in nature. We swim in the sea. We walk on the beach. We visit the bush. We slow down. When we’re back in our day-to-day lives we’re so busy at work, doing homework, fighting traffic, making dinner. We don’t stop to admire the sunset or the clouds. And yet all it takes is a pause. A pause and an acknowledgement. And a few deep breaths.

Even if we live and work in areas which are lacking in parks and gardens we can be touched by nature daily. We’re blessed with incredible sunrises and sunsets here in Africa. And this time of year, we often get to see the sunrise as we travel to work or school. We can use it to feed our soul if we slow down slightly, feel gratitude and take a few deep breaths to truly absorb it. And instead of continuing to battle through work or homework, we can take a few minutes to go outside and to look at the sky, see the colours of the leaves against a bright blue sky, notice some of the incredible cloud formations, or to watch the birds and bees as they work. Try it – it’s very restorative.

I’m always amazed by how refreshed I feel if I allow myself that time to pause, to consciously connect to nature and to feel gratitude for all that is working beautifully and perfectly without my organization and control! There’s a big wide world out there with an inherent order, strength and energy that’s managing fine without me! As a mother, physiotherapist and carer, I often feel like everything has to be organized, “fixed” and micromanaged by me, otherwise it’ll be a disaster! When I connect to nature I realise how much I don’t control, and yet it’s naturally thriving and beautiful and perfect. It helps me to relax and to hand over my worries to the same Life Force energy as there is in grass growing, flowers blooming, seasons changing and the earth turning. Science and research are proving it too – there are so many recent studies and research articles reflecting how exposure to nature is so good for people’s health, wellbeing and happiness – children and adults. It stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system whereas our urban life very easily stimulates that sympathetic nervous system, leaving us feeling wired, anxious and on high alert every day.

Talking of the earth turning – this week is significant. It’s the Winter Solstice for us here in the southern hemisphere – the shortest day and the longest night of the year. We’re at the depths of our winter cycle of restoration and renewal. Perhaps we can mark the Solstice this week by reflecting on our lives and writing down what we want to release and leave in the darkness and what we’d like to welcome in with the light as the days start getting longer from here until December? Connecting our energy and intentions with the earth’s energy can be very powerful.

And if you’re based in Jo’burg and want to connect to nature more, go and visit the Wilds on a Saturday or Sunday. Artist James Delaney and his team have done an amazing job of restoring this gem to its former glory, all through donations and people volunteering their time and energy and getting involved. It’s heartwarming to see how the local community have adopted and are reviving this beautiful park. It’s really worth a visit and great for a walk! To find out more have a look at the facebook page, Friends of the Wilds, Johannesburg.

Finally if you’re needing more restoration and renewal, keep a look out for an email I’ll be sending soon about a retreat I’ll be co-hosting in September in magnificent Franschoek!  It’s going to be really special!

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