The ultimate balancing act is performed by Mother Nature. Every day, if we use our senses to tune into nature, we can learn from the greatest teacher of all.
Many people talk with me about “working through problems” (with emphasis on the word “work”). I believe we can see our challenges and problems from a new perspective if we develop compassion for ourselves and for others. It is easier to do this when we are in nature. By merely substituting the word “walk” (or glide, ease, roll through problems) we can access gentleness and compassion with a willingness to consider alternatives that may not have been evident before. The idea is to move as healthfully as possible. We can absorb the lessons of nature as we pay attention to everything around us, having access to new insights.
One way of doing this is to walk through problems by using metaphors from nature. We can visualize our lives as a flowing river and learn from that. Is the water rushing or trickling? Do large rocks or tree trunks force the water to separate and then meet on the other side? How do we feel about the rapids? The whirlpools? The unexpected depth changes? How do we handle when something interrupts our natural flow?
As we walk in the forest, do we choose to walk on the well-worn paths? Once on our journey do we notice the obstacles? A fallen tree? A swampy marsh? Have new paths been formed or is it up to us to figure out how to get around, over, or through these obstacles? Do we turn back? How do we handle our sense of uneasiness?
When we are sad and feel adrift, we can invite the trees to embrace us with their strength, reminding us of their deep roots. We can learn what we need to do to restore our own power and recharge our lives. Some paths are open, sunny and welcoming. Others are shady and daunting. There is regenerative life in both. Sometimes we forget to appreciate that even in the darkest places there is life and hope.
When in nature:
Engage All Your Senses. See, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Walk barefoot in fresh-cut grass, along a sandy beach, on stepping stones. See what it feels like to become grounded as you connect to the earth. Notice the wind. Focus on subtle changes as if you are looking through a camera lens. Observe both the majestic and the minute.
Know your Place. Be in awe of the trees, the plants, the rock formations. See how nature reveals the cycles of life and death. We plant, we harvest, and then replant. Nature renews itself and so can we.
Appreciate the Seasonal Changes. Study the flow of nature and how there is momentum toward constant growth. Experience the withering of winter and the rebirth of spring. Revel in a new seasonal palette every few months and add different color and a fresh outlook to your personal life’s canvas.
Appreciation of nature as a teacher allows us to be aware of fresh ways to approach life’s challenges.