“To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness.” John Muir.
There is magic in finding a spot in nature, bedding down under a tree or by a creek and simply just existing in peace surrounded by nature. Tapping into your senses, what does the wind sound like in trees, what tiny animal can you see working its way around you, what does the moss smell like? In moments like this we can calm our nervous systems, take a break from our busy lives and reconnect to the natural world. When we allow our senses to actually take in the world around us, we can heighten our experience of the world and of ourselves. This is important at the moment because so many of us are living life from a place of dysregulation and are needing to walk towards the peace and away from the chaos or perceived threat of life.
We know that nature increases our sense of self and well-being. It can also reduce our anxiety and enhance our mood. Time alone in nature gives us a break from the constant stimulation of screens, others, and the demands of life. It also promotes the practice of self-reflection and self-awareness. For many, being alone with thoughts can be a painful experience. In fact, we often fill our days with as many activities and people as possible in full efforts to avoid being alone with our thoughts and feelings.
Interestingly, from a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy standpoint those thoughts and feelings influence our behaviours even if we do not acknowledge them directly. The anger we feel and avoid may cause us to snap at a stranger, the sadness may lead us to say no to an event we might enjoy. When we name the emotions, we gain power over them. Finding a spot in solitude to sit or stand for a few minutes in nature may make this process easier because stillness in nature promotes creative thinking and a stronger sense of self, giving us the ability to tap into what we are feeling in the present moment.
We used to sit in nature as kids all the time. We used to be curious about ants, and where the water went, and the butterfly landing on the leaf. Think back to those days, what do you remember about your time playing outside? I can remember lying in the grass looking up at the blue-sky making shapes out of the clouds.
I remember it as such a peaceful time without a care in the world. Those are the moments we need to bring back into our lives now. As our town and community embraces spring, I encourage you to go into your backyard or find a trail and when you come across a spot that feels right, have a seat, take a few deep breaths, and then fully take in the nature around you. Use your senses as a grounding tool and feel the sun on your skin for that extra bonus of Vitamin D. No rules on time, a few minutes to a few hours, whatever you have is good. Honour yourself by gifting yourself a few moments of youth and uncontrolled joy by sitting in nature.
The content provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you find yourself in distress, please reach out to your local physician who can provide mental health resources in your community.