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Cultivate your connection with Nature

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

I am blessed to live in an area which has several ancient woodlands nearby, where I can spend time away from the trappings of modern life and be more or less undisturbed for a while. For me, there is nothing more grounding than sitting directly on the earth, and engaging all my senses: noticing how the clouds move across the sky, or watching a feather drifting lazily to the ground; hearing the sounds of Nature: pigeons and woodpeckers going about their daily business, the buzz of crickets in the undergrowth and the wind gently rustling the leaves in the trees; feeling the soft tickle of grass and I brush my hands over it, and the feeling of Earth below me, solid, safe, holding me; and smelling the summer slowly turning into autumn. And I feel at peace. No matter how stressful my day or week has been, I know I can let go of it – at least for a while – through my deep connection with the natural world.

People often tell me they feel daunted by the thought of sitting alone, outside, with nothing to do but observe the world. In my previous article, I explored why many of us feel unable to slow down and do just that. And here are my suggestions for cultivating a strong connection with Nature:

  • Decide where you want to go for a walk – whether it’s in woodland, along the coast, by a river or a waterfall – it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s outside. Before you head out, make sure you’re dressed for the weather and the terrain. Consider accessibility – can you easily and safely reach where you want to go? Take water with you and maybe some snacks if you plan to be out for a while. In the outdoors, a sprained ankle, dehydration and hypothermia are real dangers.

  • Go on your own – if you go with someone else, even if you both have the intention of sitting in quiet contemplation, you will inevitably be aware of each other’s presence, and this will inhibit your ability to truly connect with Nature. That said, it’s a good idea to let someone where you are going, for the sake of safety.

  • Take your phone if you really have to, but switch it off. Yes - completely off, not just on silent. Avoid the temptation to “just check” your texts or voicemail. This is about disconnecting from modern life and reconnecting with Nature. If you don’t feel you can trust yourself to do that, leave your phone at home: the texts will still be there when you get back.

  • On your walk, make offerings to Nature. These could be in the form of art, such as a mini mandala made from leaves or petals, singing as you walk, dancing, strewing herbs, stating your gratitude for the world around you or even picking up litter.

  • State your intention to find a quiet, peaceful place that you can use for rest and reflection. I prefer to do this out loud as I feel it makes more of a commitment to my intention, but you can say it in your head if that feels right for you.

  • While you are walking, pay mindful attention to what you can see, hear, smell and feel. Beware of rocks or potholes that might cause you to trip, and also keep an eye out for things like brambles, toxic plants etc and avoid them: these are warnings from Nature that humans are not welcome there.

  • Notice when you feel that you need to have a rest or you have an urge to just sit down. This may be your intuition telling you that you've found the right place.

  • Carefully clear a place to sit and just sit down. Relax and observe the space around you and notice how it makes you feel. If you feel safe and relaxed, stay here; if you feel uncomfortable or a sense that you are not welcome there, move on and find another place to sit. Respect the wishes of the land – often they are wary of humans whom they may see as inconsiderate or destructive.

  • Simply sit for a while and just “be” in this place. It may feel strange at first if you’re not used to sitting in nature doing nothing, but that is all you have to do. You may find that you can only do this for ten minutes or so the first time you do this, but aim to build it up each time so that you can feel comfortable spend an hour sitting in your place.

Know that you can return to this place at any time that you feel the need to reconnect with Nature, to leave the stresses and strains of daily life behind, and to ground yourself.

The more time you spend in a particular place, the stronger your relationship will become with the Nature spirits of that place. As you go back time and again, you will come to notice more and more about the place, and you’ll feel a deep sense that you are welcomed and of belonging and comfort. By doing this regularly, you’ll notice changes in your perception of the world around you as you learn to use your slow brain more and more. You may find you have a greater sense of perspective about events and situations, or that you are making more conscious, mindful choices in life. You may feel a sense of peace, that you are being healed in some way, or that you are building a spiritual connection with Nature.

Joss Anderson is a qualified and experienced Shamanic Practitioner, Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner and ICF-accredited coach, based in Cambridgeshire, UK and online.

© Joss Anderson; © The Wild Edges, 2022

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