#4 Nature – A Place to Cleanse Your Spirit

I go on lots of nature walks. When I’m in and around nature, I become centered, centered in such a way that the rat race that has become my life temporarily vanquishes. I see many metaphors in nature’s presence. Each moment spent amongst the trees has a big lesson behind it. In nature’s silence, every word can be heard clearly. She is able to cut, crystalize, and clarify everything that I need to know.

Mother nature selflessly takes everybody in, excludes no one, and keeps on giving. Take a tree for example. A tree gives shade to all that come and not once does it ask for acknowledgment. You might be asking yourself, well of course it can’t, it’s just a tree! Did you know that trees get stressed, develop tumors, and go through hardships just like us? Just because all of nature doesn’t exhibit the same expression of pain as humans do, doesn’t mean it doesn’t experience any. When you are around nature more you will understand this. You will understand that everything exhibits pain and happiness, and with nature’s help, you will build compassion, altruism, and benevolence for all.

What if we gave without acknowledgment, without concern, or without a thank you? What if people gave for the sake of giving? I have brought this quote up in countless articles, but it makes me think about how beautiful it is to be alive and to have the ability to love and give.

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth you owe me, imagine what a love like that can do; it can light up the whole sky.” — Hafez

It’s a form of meditation — I strongly urge you to leave your cell phone in your car, at home, or completely turned off when in nature. Give yourself the time to be present. Breathe the oxygen rich air that nature gives so effortlessly. Concentrate on the trees, the hills, the rocks, and every little insect you see. Be fully engaged and you will find yourself encapsulated to a degree you never thought possible. Enjoy and respect the time you are giving yourself to be present in all the beauty around you. I have cried in the presence of nature many times. I am not sure what brought on the tears. Perhaps it’s the pure, splendid, majestic, and esoteric scenery that was before me. Whatever accounts for the penetrating shift in my soul, I am grateful for the ability to be moved.

You will become more innovative — Most, if not all my ideas and inspiration come from nature. When I am with her I lose myself and find creativity in unexpected hours. Thoreau knew this all too well. Nature is so breathtakingly beautiful that in its beauty, your problems subside, even if for a little while. When you remove all the junk that clutters your mind, you have room for clarity, and that is when you breed innovation. You will be surprised with what you are capable of and what great ideas you can come up with.

You build compassion — Compassion is defined as the concern for the misfortunes of others. When you are in nature you start to see how everything in it operates in total harmony. The birds, the trees, and the insects are all working together. It’s a community that is interdependent. Every part of nature is just as important as the next. The trees give shade, shelter, and food. When animals die, they decay and give nutrients that give rise to more trees, and so on. When we see this enough we start to understand that we as people are all interdependent as well. The misfortune of some starts to become our misfortune. We see others unhappiness as our own and in understanding this, we give them the best that we have in us. We invite compassion and love and there is no end to how much one can love.

We start to live outside the confines of our inner circles — It’s easy to get stuck in our little problems, our careers, our ambitions, and everything that happens in and around the people that are close to us. Nature helps you understand that there is a bigger world out there and that our problems aren’t as big as we once thought they were. When you see the diversity in nature, you can see the diversity in the world.

You develop better listening skills — Have you ever talked to someone and midway through the conversation, something struck a chord with you and instead of listening to that person, you’ve already formulated a response? I used to do this all the time. Little by little, I have learned to listen. It takes me at least 10–15 seconds before I respond to the person I am talking to. If you really want to take in nature, make sure to listen to all her sounds. Listen to the birds chirping, the grasshoppers cricketing, and the waves of the ocean thrashing. When you start to listen for these sounds, it starts to permeate through your life in every spectrum. I listen a lot more than I talk these days, it’s probably why I write so much.

You become humbled — When I visit Muir Woods, I often gaze at the 300+ foot redwood trees and am humbled. When you look at a seed that is no bigger than the smallest microchip grow into something the size of a redwood tree, you just can’t help but be in awe. If you have ever been through a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane, then you know what nature is capable of. The humble nature of the self that nature induces, if you let it, can resonate to everyday life. You start to see all the people in your life with a special story. Everyone’s journey humbles you. Everyone and everything will become important. I am utterly transfixed when I sit down with friends, family members, and strangers and learn about their life stories. Every story is so unique and of great importance.

You sleep better — Nature’s beauty gives less time for bad thoughts. The more time you spend in nature, the more these thoughts subside, and the more relaxed you become. In a world where information is constantly jammed into our brain we tend to forget what it’s like to have a clear mind. When you go on nature walks, you are transfixed in beauty. Soon the busy mind is laid to rest, helping you sleep better. I guarantee that we can all use more sleep.

You love better — Whether it’s your family, friends, strangers, or a significant other, you start to love better. If you are fully present and aware in nature, meaning that you are simply paying attention to everything in front of you, without headphones or mindless chatter, you really start to appreciate everything more. You become grateful that you are able to see what is in front of you and in my experience, this has made me treat the ones around me better. I see everything and everyone as a miracle. Having people that care about you is a miracle, being able to laugh and love is a miracle, everything is a miracle!

You eat healthier — Do you notice people that are mountaineers, hikers, or rock climbers are fairly fit people throughout their whole lives? What some don’t recognize is that these people eat quite healthy as well. Nature brings about an appreciation of your surroundings. You feel one with the environment, you start to understand that you are a part of nature, and when this happens, the need for processed foods that you are accustomed to lessen substantially. I love eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and pastured meats because I know its closest to nature, closest to its source, and not processed and re-processed. My body has undergone great changes, but it fails in comparison to the changes that my mind has gone through.

You become happier — Being happy is a byproduct of being grateful. It’s just as simple as that. Nature is beautiful because it never wants, never fights, and never resists. If a tree dies, the flowers still bloom, the other trees don’t whimper for they know that a dying tree will become whole again. Nature understands the need to let go of the false notion of control. Nature thrives because it’s simply grateful for being alive. If we transcend this type of thinking into our daily lives it will do wonders. Check out what Harvard Medical School had to say about gratitude. It’s a great read and provides validation and insight from some of the brilliant minds in our world. Be grateful for all that you have and make it a practice to reap its benefits.

I never thought that nature would have such a profound impact on me and I believe if you spend more time with her, you will see yourself evolving for the better. Give yourself a chance to free your mind, to find meaning, to find the love of self, and to find everlasting peace. You will begin to transmit, transform, and penetrate a type of life giving light that brightens the hearts and souls of those around you, while unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

I believe there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconscionably yield to it, will direct us alright” -Henry David Thoreau

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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