Connect with Nature as You (and the World) Pause
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
5 Ways to Remind Yourself of Your Interconnectedness
As the world community settles into the practice of self-isolating, it is easy to feel disconnected and fearful. I have found it very helpful in the past week to connect with nature. It not only calms me, it also reminds me that even when I feel alone, I am still a part of an interdependent living planet.
Below are five practices I’ve been using to support myself and my climate action in these unusual times. Modify them to suit what works best for you.
Hug a Tree
Although we are social distancing from each other, we don’t have to keep apart from nature. If you’ve never hugged a tree before, I recommend doing it. There are many ways to hug a tree. You can find your own or do the steps to this one:
As you wrap your arms around the trunk, place your chest fully against it and rest your cheek on the bark.
Feel the roughness of the skin of the tree against the smoothness of your own skin. Take a deep breath.
Sense your feet on the earth, as you take in the tree's solidity, rooted in the ground and reaching for the sky.
Imagine the energy of life, in the form of water and nutrients, flowing upwards through the core of the tree and through your body.
Visualize or feel the tree breathing through its leaves, inhaling the carbon dioxide you are breathing out and exhaling oxygen for you to breathe in. You and the trees are intimately connected through the reciprocal breath you share.
When you are ready, slowly remove your arms and step away from the tree. If you feel moved to do so, thank the tree for allowing you to hug it and for providing you with so many resources.
Ground Yourself in the Present Moment Through Nature
When you catch yourself being afraid, it’s helpful to bring yourself back to the relative safety of the present. We usually base our fears on worry about what might happen in the future. Here is one method I use that you may like that uses nature as a calming influence:
Take a moment to allow yourself to feel whatever feelings are rising in you. Where are they in your body? What are they saying to you? Make a mental note.
Then turn your attention to nature. Either go outside or look out a window. Allow your awareness to take in a broader view, one that includes your body in the landscape.
Take a deep breath. Then gently look around. What do you hear? What do you see? What grabs your attention?
Once an object has your attention, rest on it for a moment. Study its qualities. What about it brings you joy?
Then look around again and notice something else to focus on for another minute. Do this a few more times.
Now bring your attention back to yourself. What are you feeling now?
Cement the experience in your body by saying positive affirmations that reinforce calmness and safety. Here are some examples: Right now, in this moment, I am relatively safe. I am alive and healthy. I am calm and at peace.
Look at the landscape again and if you feel moved, thank nature for being a steady and always available resource.
Take a Mindful Walk
If you are in a location that allows you to go for a walk outside your home and keep a six-foot social distance, then I recommend going on a daily stroll. In the Northern Hemisphere, as we bloom into spring and warmer weather, it can be a relief to be outside.
Allow yourself to move mindfully, at a pace that permits you notice what is around you.
Pause occasionally to look at small objects more closely. What does the bud of a forsythia look like? How many colors do you see around you? What is coming alive after a long winter?
As you walk, feel your own aliveness. Notice how nature supports and uplifts you.
Reframe the Change in Your Lifestyle
In the past few weeks, life has undergone a dramatic change. When we’re stuck at home, it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of frustration and overwhelm, particularly if we are trying to work with a house full of children. We are eager to get back to our normal lives. I have found it useful to look for the silver linings, like in the poem to the right by Kitty O'Meara, to counterbalance the negatives of this bleak situation.
When I reframe the situation to hold both the good and the bad, I feel lighter and more connected. Some thoughts I’ve been exploring and holding in my awareness include:
By staying home, I am doing a service to my community.
I get to spend time with my family that I wouldn’t normally have. Let me make the most of it.
Narrowing the scope of my life allows me to experience my connection with nature more fully. Normally, I’m moving too fast to notice.
I am more aware of how the interdependence of life on the earth and other people. I am thankful for of all those who support me in my life, including farmers, grocery store and restaurant workers, health care professionals, and public servants.
I am happy that, while we are all pausing our lives, the planet is getting a breather from GHG emissions and other pollution. Satellite images show that our reduced movement is having a positive impact on the earth.
I hope that we, as a global community, might learn from this pandemic what truly matters in life.
Stay Connected to Climate Action
While most of our attention and energy is going towards being safe right now, we can also still hold an awareness of the need to take care of nature and the climate crisis. You can reallocate some of the time you used to spend being out and about in the world towards bolstering your climate action from home.
Many organizations in the climate movement have moved their activities online for the time being. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Learn more about climate actions you can take. If you are already implementing solutions, look into how you can add more of them to your daily life.
Take part in an online climate change webinar.
Write your representatives in Congress and ask them to include support for the most vulnerable people and businesses in our society, and help for renewable energy, instead of bailing out large corporations.
Stay safe and be well.
I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section. I’ll respond in one of my blog posts.
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All the best,
Krista / Eco-Omi