Ever the ponderer, this is my latest ponder with a mug to go with it.
When I have a day without time in the woods or proximity to a tree or at least a 30-minute walk outdoors, I feel off balance, almost ill. I know this about myself. For those 30 minutes, I feel truly embodied, human, clear, and connected to all of existence in the cosmos.
The only way I have found to reach a similar state indoors is during meditation (not always – sometimes the jackhammer of a mind won’t let up) when I glimpse what Buddhists call “Buddha nature” or “true nature.”
In both cases, sometimes indoor, always outdoors, I feel like I touch something that is beyond gender, beyond words, beyond my appearance or what I or anyone thinks of me. In short, my spiritual self, a soul, the universal groundlessness of all being.
The more I meditate and the more I connect with the natural world (you don’t need to be naked or swinging from trees like some people in the article below to remember your connection), the more I am confused about what we hang our identities on in my own culture. A culture that fosters separation from other humans, separation from natural world as if we are not a part of its structure – like cutting off our own fingers to build a house, fast-twitch responses to technology, constant electrical stimulus. As far as gender cues, when did not wearing makeup become a sign of depression or a manicure/pedicure become the best advice for self-care? I recently was given this advice by a well-meaning person hoping to improve my appearance or attractiveness to myself and others.
It is possible I don’t put enough energy into being something beyond my true nature in order to impress or attract others, but I am the happiest I’ll ever be during these moments when I glimpse true nature of what it is to be human.
This is why I was thrilled to learn of this National Geographic program and read this article which compiles the latest science behind all of what I experience when I’m in nature and much of what I have researched on my own.
If you get a chance to watch the show, I highly recommend it. Here’s one good reason why:
In a recent study, some 70 percent of U.S. mothers reported that they played outside every day as children; only 31 percent of their children do.
Confiding in a tree may save your life. Many adults won’t admit it, but nearly all of us have had an experience with a tree or an animal or other element in nature that rocked our world at some point in our life. All spiritual traditions started with at least a few days in the wilderness. I’m glad I know where to go if I want to remember.