“Before the scriptures were written, people already knew that there was something sacred about the trees, and about the weather, and about the stones,” said Sister Bette Ann Jaster, a Dominican Sister of Hope. “Nowadays, though, we have so many interruptions that it’s hard to pay attention, to stay awake to the beauty around us.”
Life is busy. Not everyone has time to take nature strolls and dance in the light. That’s why it’s important to consider simple (and relatively quick!) ways to unplug, connect with nature, and rejuvenate right now.
1. Work in a garden
It takes energy and effort, but getting dirty doesn’t have to be work. Planting a flowerbed or even a bulb that will come up annually can help you to take some peaceful time out, and to appreciate the dirt under your nails.
2. Walk the labyrinth
The labyrinth is meditation at its best. Participants walk through the circle in silence, experiencing a unique form of contemplation and introspection, a great way to help you feel more connected to the world from the inside out.
3. Sit by a tree
There’s just something about being in the shade with the grass tickling your toes. Maybe it’s just the body’s proximity to a direct producer of oxygen.
4. Hold a flower
Feel the delicate leaves in your fingers. Discern where the veins are, where the center is. Sister Bette Ann co-created a program at Earthlinks http://www.earthlinks-colorado.org/ in Denver. At Earthlinks, participants make Earth-friendly products such as bookmarks out of pansies. “I used to tell [the participants], when you’re outside,
look at the pansies,” recalls Sister Bette Ann. “You know the pansies: they’ve known your fingers and you know them. They’re your friends.”
5. Get outside
Even just five minutes of sunshine a day can help you feel better, sleep better, and prevent health risks. In a small window of time, you can do something really good for your body and spirit.
6. Take a walk
Being outside is good, but it’s better still if you’re moving. Walking can help boost blood flow to your brain, decrease muscle pain, and help to deflect diabetes and other health concerns. Of course, it helps to clear your mind, too.
7. Put down your phone, and soak in the world around you
Time outside is wasted if your eyes are still glued to a screen. Sister Bette Ann said it best: “Gizmos might provide pictures of nature, but there’s nothing like being with the natural world in whatever form it takes.”
8. Get a plant
Sure, you can go outside, but why not bring nature inside, too? Even people who are homebound can enjoy nature and reap its benefits, says Sister Bette Ann. “We used to say, ‘get a little plant and put it by your phone and just look at the leaves once and awhile.’” It helps.
9. Smell an herb
“I have little kids rub their fingers on the mint leaves and then smell their fingers, and it smells like mint,” Sister Bette Ann shared. “It’s
like, ‘How does that happen? How does something I eat grow out of the ground?’” Which brings us to our next point…
10. Let yourself be amazed
“Look at the ocean, sand, sun, seashells, moon,” Sister Bette Ann suggests. There is beauty and wonder all around us. Take the time to appreciate it, and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.