Over the years, I have come across several people who enjoyed being outside and surrounded by nature. Whether this involved hiking through hills and mountains, lying on a towel on a beach, taking a walk in a park, having a picnic or barbeque in a backyard, or just sitting on a park bench, there was something about the experience that gave them some degree of joy and comfort.
I have always wondered why this is.
Personally, I love being outdoors. I live in a hollow deep in the woods of middle Tennessee. The distance between my house and an actual road is half of a mile. I am surrounded by possibly millions of green leaves everywhere. For me, nature has a calming and grounding effect. It does not matter if I stand in a green wilderness or a rugged bluff overlooking the ocean. I feel differently than I do in my bedroom or out in a bustling, concrete city.
The interesting thought I have is that standing among trees in the middle of the woods is no less frenetic and bustling than standing in Times Square in New York City. It all just happens on a much smaller, and even microscopic, scale.
Leaves, blades of grass, and flowers all strain themselves reaching out for the sun. Birds, bees, and butterflies flutter about handling their business. Snails, lizards, and snakes slither and slink around hunting for food and places to linger. Lichen on trees and mushrooms absorb particles and nutrients all around to grow and sustain themselves. Sap oozes out of tree barks while squirrels leap and scurry about. Underground, hundreds of tunnels burrowed by worms and ants crisscross among every size of growing root imaginable.
I could go on endlessly. The point is that energy abounds in its own way in a natural habitat. I wonder then if this kind of energy resonates differently within our bodies, senses, and brains. Perhaps this kind of movement within a slower and miniscule capacity is a subtle reverberation that calms us down and connects to us somewhere deep in our core.
If this reads like I am venturing into high-falootin, new-agey, gobley-goop pontificating, then so be it. It is the only answer that I can come up with as to why nature creates a sense of serenity among so many people.
One other reason could be the sheer beauty and grandeur that nature presents.
Jagged mountain peaks that touch the sky.
The sparkling blue ocean on a warm sunny day
Wild flowers of every color in endless fields of wispy grass,
Lush green foliage glistening after a spring rain.
The magical dance of a thousand fireflies as the dark of night descends upon us.
With all the richness that nature has to offer freely, it may be impossible not to be swept up into its comforting arms and beguiling, alluring gaze.
If you have never enjoyed the outdoors, perhaps it is only because you have not found your own natural habitat yet–a place that gives you a sense of wonder and peace. It’s worth the time to put on some good shoes. Head out into the world, and explore.
Surround yourself with nature. The way you feel on the inside and out may get a gentle and much needed boost.
Life is already full of complications. Find a quiet place out in the natural world and just be.
BONUS: If you are an outdoor enthusiast of any kind, there is a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, also called forest bathing, that might suit you well. Click HERE to learn more.