Modern day life has created so many obstacles to the natural world that we feel disconnected. Technological connection seems to be leading to disconnection with nature.
About 10 years ago I learned the hard way that we do not have endless battery life and we all need to recharge from time to time before our bodies decide to pull the plug for us. It was time to turn my life around and reconnect with nature, get back to what really nurtured me. But in a way that meant I didn’t need to give up my lifestyle completely and move into a tipi in the woods.
Apart from the obvious digital detox and getting active outdoors in your local park instead of in the gym — here are 12 ways to restore your inner connection with nature when you are not able to actually get out and fully immerse yourself in its natural beauty.
Stop. Breathe. Watch. Listen. Smell. Touch. Feel. Taste.
- Breathe. It sounds so simple. We do it all the time to stay alive. But only rarely do we breathe consciously. Air represents freedom. Open a window, let in fresh air, close your eyes, take 10 long deep breaths and let fresh air fill your lungs. Remember you are a living creature.
- Go outside for lunch or on your 15 minute break. I know, this one is a no brainer, but nevertheless it must be mentioned. Move away from your screen, soak up the natural light and fresh air, whether rain or shine. Even if you can only walk around the block once. If possible go out and sit on the grass, lean against a tree, and enjoy your lunch feeling the grass under your feet.
- Observe transformation. May it be a tree, a squirrel, a flower or a birds nest you see every day — watch how it transforms according to weather and season.
- Take off your shoes. If you do not have a garden or a park close by be crazy and stand on the little patch of soil in between the pavement and the road. Connect with mother earth under your feet. Feel grounded.
- Look up at the sky. Watch the clouds, look at their shapes, follow them into infinity. Remember that wildness is the undercurrent of the world. Watch the sun rise as a new day begins and set and a day comes to and end. All runs in cycles.
- Feel the breeze in your hair, the wind in your face. Remind yourself of how the wind carries sound & messages, and spreads seeds for new beginnings. Feel the rain. Stand outside in the rain and feel it on your skin. Imagine how it nourishes the earth and is key for anything to grow and survive. Including yourself. It washes away your worries and cleanses to make space for new beginnings, however large or small.
- Pick up a leaf, look at a flower. Take a good look at its unique pattern, feel the calm that arises with that and how more observant your become.
- Soak up the sun. Even if you cannot get outside, go and stand my the window, close your eyes for a few minutes and feel the warmth on your face. As we know from photosynthesis the sun, solar energy, is essential for growth.
- Connect with someone different. That’s right — connect with human nature. That colleague you have never spoken to, the guy who lives down the road, smile & say hello while holding the door for someone at the supermarket. When we reach out beyond our assumptions and perceived differences, we create a world that isn’t quite as separate as we may have thought. Sounds wild, doesn’t it?
- Get a feel for North, South, East and West. Feel grounded. Know your place. Where are you facing right now? Look at any tree close by and check which side of it is mossy and green. If you are in the Northern hemisphere, this will be North. If you are in the Southern hemisphere is will be South. Otherwise you can check the sun — rising in the East, setting in the West.
- Listen to the birds sing. Focus. Listen. They are there. Even in the city. They sing their little hearts out, proclaiming their presence, not worrying about what the other birds are thinking about their song or words.
- Howl. Haha, yes, you read that right. Howl. Let your voice out. We so often feel caged in our lives we have built for ourselves. If you are up for a challenge, get up right now and go outside right now and howl. You don’t have to do it in front of anyone else. If that’s not possible for whatever reason, try howling in your car on the commute home, or in the park. Let go of what is bottled up inside. Know that your voice matters.
Nature is not a luxury — it is essential for our mental and physical health. Who doesn’t feel uplifted after a walk outside or even better in the woods or on the beach? In 2015 Stanford University found that people who walked in nature showed decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with stress, anxiety and depression.
Having a connection with nature is deeply personal. We all have it to varying degrees. There is no right or wrong. Find your way, your enchanted wood in the city, doing what’s best for you. And remember, if you don’t have the opportunity to escape the city today, you don’t need to stray as far from home to see nature as you may have thought.
Be an urban nature detective. Where else have you found nature in the city