Something appeals to us about a beautiful sunset, the waves constantly rolling into shore, or a peaceful spot in the forest surrounded by stoic trees, with the sunlight gently filtering down. Humans have long enjoyed a connection with nature that transcends logic or description. Our relationship with nature is incredibly deep, almost spiritual. Nature speaks to our soul. Particularly when we have been using substances and perhaps living in a completely urban environment, communing with nature can be very healing.
Connecting With Mother Earth
There is actual science behind why nature appeals to us. Nature has long been associated with lowered blood pressure, decreased anxiety and depression, providing relief for symptoms of ADHD, improved immune system, and more. Whole communities are based on the availability of clean air and either humidity or a lack thereof to enhance the health of those who suffer from various maladies.
But it doesn’t take science to notice that we feel very different standing on a hill with a breathtaking view as we do sitting in our car in traffic. We don’t need to have a health issue to stand at the seaside and deeply breathe the salty, sea air, hear the waves crashing, the seagulls softly shrieking in the distance, the sand between our toes, and the wind sweeping through our hair. This is connecting with mother earth, this is becoming grounded. This is communing with nature, an experience that can be almost spiritual.
Getting Back to Our Roots
One experience we can have with nature is gardening. There is something innate about digging in the soil, feeling each grain of sand, the small rocks, and perhaps even the roots of existing plants. Perhaps this is where the phrase “feeling grounded” comes from, but there is something healing and also fulfilling about working with the earth, tending the delicate plants, and seeing life up close and firsthand. Watching plants grow and tending them nurtures not only the plants but also our souls.
Gardening is a wonderful metaphor for the transition we are making in recovery. We clear the weeds away from plants that are struggling. Some even need to be transplanted to ensure they will be able to grow properly. As we tend them and make sure they have the sunlight and water they need, it is not unlike the love and care that we are giving to ourselves. As we watch our plants grow, our own growth is reflected in this process, and we are connected in yet another way with nature.
Moving in the Outdoors
Stationary bikes and treadmills have their usefulness, especially for those who live in harsh climates. But nothing beats being outdoors and running with the wind in our hair, the sun kissing our face, and our lungs full of fresh air. Riding a bicycle amongst the beautiful scenery that only nature provides helps us to forget we are even exercising and transports us to places no stationary bike can take us.
Climbing to New Heights
Another healing way to enjoy nature is to hike. We don’t have to plan an expedition to Kilimanjaro or even go far from home. Hiking in the local hills or forest or even along the coast still allows us to breathe in the clean air, enjoy the sights and smells, and move our bodies as we explore the world that metropolitan life forgot.
Taking the time to wander through trees, explore footpaths, or maybe even make a diversion to some tidepools helps us to clear our minds, gives us time for reflection, and gives us a different perspective than we get from an office building. For those of us who have been using substances, hiking has effects on our mind, body, and soul that nothing else can quite replicate.
Meditation is a very healing and rewarding practice, especially within recovery. How much more peaceful and healing would it be to find a quiet place in a field, on a hill, near the ocean, or even in a beautiful park or garden to sit quietly and meditate? Feeling the sensations of the ground beneath us, the sunlight washing over us, the cleansing breezes, and the sounds of birds and other animals creates a unique and restoring place for us to relax and guide our minds to healing.
Feeding Our Souls
Something about nature allows us to not only connect with Mother Nature but also to connect with ourselves. We are more easily able to clear the distractions from our minds and achieve clarity for ourselves and for our lives. As we come in contact with the various elements in nature—the cold hard surfaces of rocks and terrain, the rough wooded trees with their paper-like leaves, the soft clouds suspended in the wispy breeze, the warmth of sunlight or the pleasant moisture of rain—all of these elements feed our souls, giving us renewed energy and life. Coming from a life of substance use, nature is particularly healing.
Nature can be a part of our healing process. At AToN Center, we offer many opportunities to commune with nature, including hiking, gardening, and other outdoor activities. To find out how to add nature to your recovery, call us at (888) 535-1516 today. We can help you find yourself, find your way back from substance use, and find your connection to nature. Healing with nature grounds us in our recovery.