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Nature - a gateway to inner peace

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

Throughout our travels and backyard wanderings, my wife and I always 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.

It seems that nature's peace and balance reminds us of an aspect of ourselves we've lost touch with, or forgotten: a memory deep in our soul of our natural connection to Spirit, 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.

Spending quiet time with Mother 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. Here, there is peace.

There are many benefits to 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 and 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 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 return your awareness to your senses, body and breath.

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

Dane Roubos is an Ashland chiropractor. You can learn more at www.BodyMindPeace.com, or call him at 821-3263.