Connect With Nature to Connect With Yourself | Omega

Statistics show that we spend less time outside than ever before. On average, we're in the car for more than 2 hours a day and plugged into some kind of digital media for 11 hours a day. Instead of looking at pictures of nature online, or watching it fly by past the car window, try one of these exercises next time you step outside. You only need a few minutes to feel connected to yourself, and the world, again. 

On many levels we are meant to be in touch with earth and the Earth. Doing so is good for us mentally, physically, and spiritually.

In Eco-Yoga, Henryk Skolimowski says, “Walking through rugged mountains or deep embracing forests is cleansing and inspiring. What happens when we are cleansed and inspired? We become reconnected with our inner selves; we feel renewed.”

Rugged mountains, deep forests, and airy seashores are nice, but inspiration can be found in whatever nature is nearby. Here are some exercises to try next time you need a little recharge. You don't need anything but your senses; just step out your door, give it a few minutes, and you'll likely be surprised by what happens.

Seeing

Find a tree and stop beneath it. Close your eyes. Become aware of your breath. Follow your inhale and exhale 10 times to get centered.

Open your eyes and gaze upward at the canopy of the tree above. Notice the leaves. Notice their color and how many different shades of that color are represented. Notice how many variations of green, yellow, red, or purple are there.

Move your entire awareness to the leaves and let yourself become lost in them. Notice the shape of the mass of leaves that make up the canopy, how it moves in the air, and the way light filters through it. Next, begin to focus on smaller and smaller areas of the leaves. Notice as much detail as you can. Zero your focus in on one leaf, then one part of a leaf until that becomes all that you are aware of.

Do this for 30 seconds to 10 minutes. When you are done, close your eyes and visualize the last aspect of the leaves that you looked at. Hold this image for a moment before gently opening your eyes and once again taking in the whole tree.

Listening

Find a place to sit comfortably outdoors. You can sit on the ground, or on a rock, log, bench, or chair. Choose a place where you can sit still and won't be distracted by being uncomfortable. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, inhaling and exhaling 10 times to get centered.

Bring your attention to the sounds nearest to you. Focus on each sound for a moment until you can isolate it from the other sounds. Don't try to name the sounds, just try to focus on them as sound.

Now move your awareness outward and find sounds a little farther away from you, in the middle distance. After a few minutes, stretch your listening to hear sounds very far away from you. What is the furthest sound you can hear?

Move your attention among the sounds you hear at different distances and notice the variation in tone, intensity, and quality.

When you feel like you have heard all there is to hear, come back to the breath for a few moments before you gently open your eyes.

Touching & Feeling

Find a tree or other solid plant and stand close to it. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, inhaling and exhaling 10 times to get centered.

Reach your hands out and feel the bark of the tree in front of you. Notice the texture and temperature, and feel the energy in the living wood. Touch it lightly, then more firmly. If possible, grasp it entirely, either with your hand or with your whole body. How does each of these things change the experience and the connection between you and the tree?

When you are done touching the tree with your eyes closed, open your eyes and do the exercise again. Connect the sensation in your hand with what you are seeing. Concentrate on this connection until you are absorbed in what you are feeling.

When you feel complete, return your attention to your breath before moving on.

© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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