Unwind and Let Go: Meditating and Reconnecting to Nature

TOMORROW …

I will start looking earnestly for ways to tackle the worries I’m experiencing off and on. And I intend to go about their sources? Here are a few thoughts and ideas for you to start with.

If the past two years has taught us anything it’s that life can be unpredictable and we can’t take anything for granted. Of course, the high street and many businesses were already facing some tough struggles before coronavirus. Those challenges however couldn’t have prepared us for what has followed, especially the global pandemic.

Having the mindset to bring on a positive 2022 means being receptive. Receptive to new and forgotten old ideas, suggestions and ways of living and doing business.

On a personal level many of us have had or still have to cope with isolation and loneliness. After all, much of life throughout 2020/21 has been put on hold. We’ve perhaps been inspired to try viable, interesting options to care for and support ourselves, becoming more creative. Finding effective ways to be healthy and look after ourselves and acquire new skills has been a valuable lesson gained during this period.

Moving positively into 2022 means continuing to incorporate those lessons learned. No less important is focussing on ways to increase mental stability, rebalancing. The first lesson to be learned should always be titled: Let Go!

It’s Not Easy To Let Go, Even For A While

The first hurdle: Control Over Your Time

Aren’t we, always struggling for control over time – measuring it, stretching it, killing it, and still never have enough time! It’s not surprising we feel this way. The pace of life today is far more frenetic than it was even just a generation ago. And, after all, time is still money, time is of the essence and time flies, right!

In the struggle to control time, we’ve grown out of touch with the natural world. So much that it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s day or night, hot or cold, summer or winter. We control the climate at home, in the car and at the office. And we create artificial environments to extend our days. We eat food with little regard for its season or source.

If we want inner peace, we need to learn how to coexist peacefully with the inevitable march of time. We certainly need to stop trying to control it. Instead we need to synchronize with time at all levels. The sixteenth-century Chinese poet Liu Wenmin put it this way:

To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed.”

Time moves on whether we are hurtling through life or savouring it. We can – indeed we must – learn to remain still and calm amid the torrent of commitments, not allowing our over-scheduled lives to rob us of the time we need to recalibrate and connect to the natural world, ourselves, and each other.

ME-TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

Time for yourself has become especially important of late. It’s a crucial part of self-care and mental well-being. Setting aside time to focus on your interests is an all important investment. Let’s have space again to pursue our hobbies, catch up with friends for a little quality time on a reasonably regular basis.

Setting aside time to focus on your interests, have space to pursue your hobbies, catch up with friends or family for a little quality time on a reasonably regular basis are all important investments.

Be firm about having some ‘me time’ for yourself

Making time for yourself is important. Yes, there’s always another task, something else that could be done, but when you determine to look after yourself well you’ll soon discover how every area of your life, business and relationships improve.

And without reclaiming ME-TIME you will never be able to reconnect with nature. It requires a state of mind (temporarily) free of thoughts that time is money, time is scarce and time flies.

The Second Hurdle: Stop Overloading Yourself

To “let go” most often seems to be completely infeasible when we’re busy. Trying to prove something or achieve an important goal we will often ask for more and more from ourselves. All too often we hardly notice that we’ve become irritable, unhappy and our relationships are suffering. We may find our sleep’s affected and we’re stressed most of the time. It can be tempting to tell ourselves that we’ll keep going for now, that there’s not too long to go.

But when we overload ourselves we become less efficient as a consequence. Taking breaks, respecting ourselves and our limitations might even result in feeling better able to dedicate quality time to achieving results and working well.

Being aware of our personal boundaries is a key component in protecting ourselves from being increasingly asked for more – by ourselves.

Sometimes we have to decide when enough is enough. How long do we keep on chasing success, working ever harder, accumulating more possessions, money, status. So, ultimately, the gist of all this reflection is: Sometimes you need to force yourself to unwind and back off from everything – at least for a day or two. That’s time to reflect on priorities and alternatives to the lifestyle you’re maintaining. And sometimes it might even prove indispensable to engage your nearest and dearest in rigidly “supporting” you to do so.

Why We Must Reconnect With Nature

There is one time-tested way of great promise to compensate for the burden contemporary everyday life places on your mind: Immersing in nature gives you a sense of perspective, enabling you to evaluate what is really relevant in your life.

To connect with nature is to reconnect to our own origins. Stepping out of our man-made schedules and obligations helps us reconnect to what is REAL and find peace. Looking at the clouds, smelling the air, feeling the breeze – even if just for a few moments – lets you enjoy the sigh of deep relieve everybody needs from time to time.

In Japan, this healing process is known as shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Scientific studies confirm that spending time in nature can lead to decreased stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure. Elevating mood and strengthening the immune system are also well established effects.

There’s a different pace of life in nature, a pace that doesn’t need a watch or clock. Sometimes it’s full of joy, other times it’s less so. But it’s good to detach from your own world and schedules for a time. It can really help when you’re weighed down with cares and scarcely know what day it is or what the future holds.

Encounter amazing smells too! The blossom as we walk past, leaves and undergrowth as we kick along, the damp ground after rain …

Do you remember the sound of nature? Turn off the noise that come out of gadgets and enjoy a highly immersive experience. Listen to early morning or nightly birdsong, the rustle of the reeds, the sound of trees shaken by the wind. Hear the sound of waves breaking on the shore, the babbling of a brook, even the gentle gracing of sheep. All those impressions will certainly help to stabilize your mental balance.

Returning to the same place again you’ll enjoy the pleasure of reliving all the impressions stored away from the first time. You’ll remember the height of the tide, the direction of the wind, the time of sunrise and sunset, and the phase of the moon. Having a place in nature to return to allows us to reconnect where we’d left off, much like picking up an old friendship.


My very own tale of reconnecting to nature

I can personally vouch for the immense benefits in terms of health and well being that can be gained from nature. Downright immersing myself in the world of natural prospects, sounds, things and movements greatly helped restoring my identity.

About 30 years ago, slowly recovering from a life-saving operation, I developed a habit. I started to spend several hours every second or third day sitting close to one of the big oak trees surrounding the place where I was living. Equipped with binoculars I observed everything that existed there and quietly watched what happened around the tree. The sun rising or sinking, the clouds, the movement of branches and twigs, nothing seemed banal. The rustling of the leaves, a bird song or some insects buzzing around a bunch of blossoms, everything excited me.

Thanks to Nature for ever

Reconnecting with nature this way worked a miracle for me, let me assure you! Before long those ‘sessions’ began to lighten my worries and sorrows considerably, restoring some confidence and even optimism. The feeling of getting stronger mentally intensified each time. Up to this day I catch every opportunity to engage with nature as intensely as possible


A Refuge: SunnysideUp Backpackers

Diving into nature in the midst of a huge metropolitan area? It’s possible although qualified to some degree. If you live in Gauteng, try out staying a day or two at SunnysideUp Backpackers in Centurion.

SunnysideUp is situated on close to 9000 square metres of semi-natural bushveld. This place is a genuine island and a refuge where you can regain some of the natural feeling lost in the city.
Click here to check out their website!


Practice Meditating!

Immersing themselves into nature might prove impossible for some. Or it might not seem to be the ideal strategy for stabilizing their mental balance. Physical disabilities or specific allergies (simple hay fever, for example) can act as invincible handicaps. Others might hold the view that complete relaxing can only be achieved by transcendental meditation. Adhering to principles and rules set by a certain meditation “school” could be another attractive option.

Ways of meditation have been developed thousands of years ago for restoring calmness and physical relaxation in troubled times. They’re all motivated by the need for improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.

Meditation improves your problem-solving abilities, even more than simply thinking about the challenge. Why? Because meditation opens your mind to new patterns of thought. If the solution doesn’t lie in your conscious mind, then it must lie in your unconscious.

As discussed above you might realise that nature can teach you a lot about your solution. The wind, rain, rivers and earth hold your answers.

Forms of meditation and hypnosis appear across time and space. The human race keeps rediscovering ways to explore the mysterious landscapes inside of us.

Dadirri

Did you know of a “school” of meditation “technique” that goes back over 40,000 years? Buddhism, by comparison, is only 2,500 years old.

It comes from the people native to the Daly River region in the Northern Territory of Australia. They call this practice dadirri and it is breathtaking.

The Aboriginal people describe it as having a silent awareness. Meditators sit for hours among nature, listening to the wind and water.

Skills this ancient and powerful take a lifetime to learn. You won’t master them here, but you can still begin and guide your journey.

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