(This is me leading yoga outdoors at Yoga On The Steps for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, May 2015. A spectacular day!)
I remember as a kid, getting out of a hot car, walking away from a parking lot and busy street into the Morris Arboretum; a gentler, softer world that smelled of honeysuckle, boxwoods, roses, and jasmine. The air was cooler and my feet wanted to run down the sweeping lawns. I studied the shadows under willows, the grace of geese and swans, and turtles across a pond.
Nature was my sanctuary: a retreat to explore shadows, roll down hills, and imagine I was a princess, a lion, or a swan whisperer.
As an adult, a retreat into nature taps the same child-like sanctuary of wonder and well-being.
As adults we stand in the parking lot of the office or the grocery store and ask:
How many hours do I sit at a desk or inside?
When will I have time to exercise?
Where can I go to enjoy myself and rejuvenate?
Here are five ways retreating to nature for one-hour a week can enhance your well-being:
1. Induce a soothing, meditative mindset. In a Yoga practice, this is called Pratyahara. We withdraw from our busy habitual behaviors and mainstream outer listening and attention to inner listening and attention. We restore our respect for our needs. Accompanied by a tall tree, a gentle breeze or bird song, we return home to our skin, the present moment, and the restorative beauty of silence.
2. Slow down, relax, restore and rejuvenate the body. The constant flux and changes of nature give us a wise backdrop and context to enjoy the body. The body seeks harmony, fluidity, flexibility, and balance just like nature. Gentle, mindful yoga, reintroduces us to the flux, flow and wisdom of our well-being. How is your body changing? How is your life changing? What does your body most need? A therapeutic and prevention-oriented approach to movement and yoga enhances well-being.
3. Disconnect from the addiction of stress, technology, and busyness. We let go the addictive reliance on email, cell phones, and technology, in exchange for a pure sky, a sunset, and a canopy of elms. A hawk flies overhead, a bunny darts behind the holly branches and the light sparkles over our face. We unplug, run down a hill and return to our senses.
4. Enjoy the flow of nature. Emerson wrote, “A nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty.” Our eyes adjust to the subtle color, line, shadow, and textures. The wind in willows and our slow, steady breath. Even with the daily pressures of life, we can make time to enjoy our bodies, our minds and the glow of the sunset with others.
5. The fun of self-reflection and self-awareness. Natural meditative environments draw our minds and hearts towards an acceptance of what is. Whether by meditation, meeting new people, conversation with others, journaling or walking, nature can be an immense catalyst for personal happiness, creativity, wholeness, and embracing change.
At the core of our mental, physical and emotional wellness Mother Nature’s meditative beauty restores our sanity and preserves our sense of wonder and ease.
Will you slow down to enjoy your health?
Will you take preventative care of your body and mind?
The answer needs to be: Yes.
We are creating a mindful culture that supports true well-being. We can support one another in a deliberate practice of reconnecting to our senses under the pure blue sky.
Let’s get outside and enjoy ourselves.
Join me this summer at the Willows, Morris Arboretum and Kripalu this Fall.