“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir
As we celebrate World Environment Day in June, we need to affirm the need to take care of the environment. All the ancient cultures around the world have always honoured ‘nature’ – plants, rivers, and mountains. In India, it was a practice to plant five trees for every one tree that was cut. Water was an integral part of all important rituals and ceremonies. Rivers were worshipped as mothers and the Earth was regarded as a goddess. Nature is imbued with spiritual power and significance. Forests, lakes, and mountains often invoke a feeling of the divine or inspire a sense of awe. They are a resource that people may use to connect to the sacred and to engender spiritual feelings.
Our connection with the environment is our first level of experience, and one of the most important.
If our environment is clean and positive, it has a positive impact on all the other layers of our existence. As a result, they come into balance and we experience a greater sense of peace and connection within ourselves and with others around us.
Anyone living in a big city keenly desires to spend time in nature and breathe in the fresh air, as we human beings are not separate but are in synchronization with nature. So, whenever we feel stuck in a negative thinking cycle it is beneficial to go back to nature. In nature, one feels at home and refreshes our soul by breathing in the fresh air.
An intimate relationship with the environment is built into the human psyche.
Historically, nature, mountains, rivers, trees, the sun, and the moon have always been honoured in ancient cultures. It’s only when we start moving away from our connection to nature and ourselves that we begin polluting and destroying the environment. We need to revive these practices that foster our connection with nature.
We need to be able to experience our world with an open mind that is free from stress, and from that place, we need to create the means of protecting our beautiful planet Earth.
For this to happen, human consciousness must rise above greed and exploitation. Spirituality, the experience of one’s own nature deep within, provides the key to this vital relationship with oneself, with others, and with our environment. This connection to our own essential nature eliminates negative emotions, elevates one’s consciousness, and creates a spirit of care and commitment for the whole planet.
What would help to raise our consciousness and deepen our connection? Here are a few basic and effective pointers:
An appropriate diet. The food that we eat, inspires our minds. Ayurveda and Chinese systems and many other native systems around the world have demonstrated the effect of food on the psyche. Modern science confirms that food can have a direct bearing on our emotions. A balanced diet has a positive influence on our emotions and in that way on our consciousness.
Light to moderate exercise. Walking, yoga, pranayama, and meditation are extremely imperative to bring a sense of respect for one’s own body and the environment.
Music and dance. These can bring rhythm and congruence to the body-mind complex. Music that is soothing and creates a gentle sway and rhythm in one’s system, like folk and classical music.
Nature. Spending time in nature, maintaining silence, and other spiritual practices like chanting and praying is very affable for helping us to reflect on our own minds. Outdoor activities such as hiking, gardening, or birdwatching, enhance the nature-human connection and acts as a catalyst to happiness. Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, as they call it in Japan, is a famous way of spending time in nature. Research has shown that people who practice forest bathing have ideal nervous system functions and well-balanced heart conditions.
Each encounter with the natural environment takes us deeper into exploring the truth behind our existence and what a happier world would look like. Nature is undoubtedly the best healer. Spending time in nature awakens our senses and provides clarity. A strong human-nature relationship means emotional balance, more focus, solution-oriented thinking, and an overall resilient approach to life.