At the end of my life-review, I ended up in a vividly green, lush, heavenly landscape. Much like my spirit body felt eternal, the grass, trees, and the natural landscape of heaven appeared deeply and completely alive without a hint of desecration. I wondered if this is how beautiful nature could be if we lived in greater balance.
There is healing potential in nature. I have known this at various times even before my near-death experience, but to hear the command, Remind them to go to nature as a direct message from the heavens has stayed with me.
Great thinkers like Einstein have recommended nature as a way to deepen our peace and awareness saying, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” And, great poets like Whitman have extolled the power of nature as well saying, “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.”
I remind my college students to eat as many whole foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, as possible. I remind them to take breaks and breathe deeply by the river. I take each of my classes outside to meditate at least once a semester, but there is more to the importance of this statement. We all need reminders to live closer to the natural rhythms and wisdom of nature.
Most of us need more time with our feet in the earth. My student’s faces look more relaxed and happy even after a short meditation outdoors. Though some of them might think meditation outdoors is a waste of time or a way to get out of lecture, I know that meditation in nature is a focus on health and a focus on decreasing their stress levels. This combination always makes for a more successful life, and their success is my success.
Most of my students light up when I ask them questions like, “Should I buy a Mac or a PC?” or “Do you prefer Instagram or Snapchat?” They tell me their opinions hurriedly and with excitement in their voices. When I ask them about hiking or camping, many of them don’t have experience with it or they have one or two pleasant memories about camping. Students who grew up in other areas of the country like Oregon or California often have a greater appreciation for nature.
I don’t hate technology; in fact, I love it and spend a lot of time on it. However, I have more fun when I’m in nature and keep my phone usage to a minimal, and I want students to know this form of therapy is there for them throughout their lives. I feel reset after time in nature. I feel cleansed, renewed, and rejuvenated. I look at my life from a different perspective, and answers to problems that eluded me often occur easily and spontaneously. I give my worries to the natural world and in return I’m given joy.
Many people have this insight and understand the importance of spending time in nature. Time magazine published an article this summer titled, The Healing Power of Nature, and a researcher in 2005 coined the term “nature deficit disorder” for many children alienated from time in nature. There are movements to address anxiety, depression, and stress through what is called “eco-therapy” by researchers.
God said it simply to me with the words, Remind them to go to nature.
I don’t know how many times I need to remind them/you/me/us, but here is our reminder for the week–GO TO NATURE! Play, have fun, relax, take a break, breathe, let your worries go, and soak up all the love that is available to you.