Scrolling through Facebook stories yesterday, I found myself drawn to images of my Facebook family enjoying time in nature. Something deep inside cried, “There! Let’s go there!” I grabbed my jacket, donned a pair of hiking boots and headed for the woods. The next two hours were transformative.
Within moments of leaving my car, I was immersed in a birch and poplar forest that seemed to greet me like an old friend. Trees stretched in endless waves as far as the eye could see. Like a scene from a Scandinavian fairy tale, the chirps from a little chickadee on a nearby branch seemingly beckoned me deeper into the woods. My heart soared as my gaze fell on a nearby pine tree outlined against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky. I breathed the fresh air deep into my lungs, then took another breath, even deeper this time. My lungs hungrily gulped cool, clear air, like a parched traveler slaking his thirst. Though the air was cool, the mid-day sun warmed my face and I felt restored.
The day held that perfect early spring balance of cool air and warm sunshine. I felt safe in nature’s warm embrace. I ventured into the woods deeper than I’ve ever gone before and was rewarded with the discovery of a river I never knew existed!
In this TedTalks video, pediatrician Dr. Nooshin Razani talks about the healing power of nature. Dr. Razani explains that escaping to nature can be as simple as a finding a vacant lot. it is her mission to prescribe time in nature as a way to treat health conditions.
Due to shelter-in-place restrictions, some people may not have the ability to leave their homes. Studies have shown that just viewing pictures of nature reduces anger, fear and stress and increases pleasant feelings. YouTube is filled with guided meditations to take you on a mental walk through the woods or calming stroll along the beach. This morning, I listened to a ten minute guided “Forest Walk”, which left me feeling calm and centered.
Today, commit to spending time in nature. Those of us who live near beaches, trails, deserts or forested areas are so grateful for the freedom to enjoy direct access to nature. For those who are homebound, studies show that guided mental walks through nature are almost as powerful as the real thing!
If you have a favorite guided meditation to mentally immerse yourself in nature, please share it below!