As we wrapped up our spring Sacred Nature course, students were surprised at how deeply they could connect with nature right in their backyard.
I get it!
There’s an assumption floating around that in order to have heart-swelling, spiritually orgasmic experiences outside, one must wander out into the vast wilderness, hiking miles a day, surviving on dirt and drinking dew on blades of grass.
While I won’t deny I’ve had miraculous moments far away from civilization, my most meaningful experiences happened right in my suburban garden.
This is made possible because of consistency—you’re more likely to develop a familial relationship with a patch of Earth you visit every day, than with a place you only visit once in a lifetime.
Think about it this way...
Did you know...
According to a recent study, The Nature of Americans, 75% of American adults said their interests in nature are among the most enjoyable things they do.
But in the same study, over 60% of those same adults reported spending five or fewer hours per week outside in nature.
That’s about 42 minutes a day doing their most enjoyable thing.
(💔 This makes my heart so sad)
Most of the 5,550 adults participating in the study from across the United States also were aware that exposure to nature is important to their physical and mental health, as well as fostering important community connections.
✔️ nature makes them happy
✔️ nature makes them healthy
🤔 But they’re only spending 3% of their day outside.
What a bitch, amirite.
There’s never enough and it only seems to speed up with age.
A question I hear a lot about time is:
“How can I make time for practices for peace and connection when…
...I’m so busy.”
...I don’t even have time for what I need to do, let alone what I want to do.”
or the crappiest of all...
“How can I make time for practices for peace and connection when I tell myself I’m not important enough to take time for.”
While we can't ignore that our physical existence has an expiration date, I’ve found that my perception of time has changed wildly, from feeling anxious to expansive.
In part this is due to the wonderful spell that is cast while out in nature, making time feel elastic. Moments spent in my senses and fully embodying the present moment stretch into lifetimes.
It’s super important to remember that practices that help us connect with ourselves and the Earth and decrease our stress don’t need to take hours to be effective!
For example, I schedule time in the morning for a 10-minute gratitude ritual in my garden, and then take one or two other brief nature breaks around lunchtime time and late afternoon.
My expansive view is also due to mindset shifts that affect how I choose to spend my limited time. Little encouraging pep talks reminding me of my value and that making healthy choices for myself has ripple effects that benefit my relationships.
Below are my personally-tested mantras to help you reclaim time to fill your cup by helping you overcome every “oh, but i couldn't possibly.”
Would you walk into a room full of people and ignore them?
Not make eye contact?
Not introduce yourself?
Just pretend sentient beings are not occupying the same space as you?
My guess is no, you would not do that.
If you have social anxiety like me, it may be challenging and awkward, but you'd still acknowledge the presence of others. Yes in part because it would be rude and even moreuncomfortable to not say something.
But also because humans are wired to connect- and not just with other humans. With any ensouled being like the Earth herself.
Has a word ever punched you in the soul?
That’s truly the only way to describe what happened when a friend said this word: Hiraeth.
It wasn’t the word itself, but when they defined it, it was as if I'd always known what it meant but forgot.
Hiraeth is a Cymraeg (Welsh) word that, like so many words, doesn’t directly translate into English.
My friend described it as a longing for a home your soul has never known.
And according to Samantha Kielar of Penn State University, it translates to something like...
I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks about their childhood relationship with nature.
So many, myself included, sought safety outside from a chaotic home life. For some, it was physically safer there, out of arm's reach from abusive family members.
For others, nature was a place where they couldn’t be micromanaged, criticized, or verbally abused.
Regardless if you were running away from something or towards it, as children we knew the secrets.
As children, we experience nature as a place we belong to and a place that belongs to us. Whether as a place of wonder and joy, or as sanctuary from a chaotic and unsafe home life, nature is where we can wander the outside world as we explore the nuances of our internal world.
It’s a place where animals trust us and we can’t imagine not trusting ourselves. A place where a rock is a throne and flowers a crown. It’s a place where we wordlessly process our big feelings. A place where we are seen, held, and loved
Nature is where we learn peace —alive in our senses, bubbling with curiosity and imagination.
But somewhere along the way to adolescence, there’s a moment that creates a tiny crack in this relationship which continues to spread over time.
A couple weeks back, I wrote about a big catalytic event. The kind that changes your life forever. They’re super easy to spot in the rear view mirror, but often for me, hard to pinpoint in the moment.
But not this time.
I am, as of July 16, 2020, smack in the middle of a doozie.
And I know it.
I routinely remind my daughter, “You need to keep trying foods, even if you’ve tried them before, because your taste buds change.”
Yes, of course, some tastes may never change. Personally, I’ve always loved strawberries and can’t imagine NOT loving them to my dying day. But my palette has expanded and I pray my daughter’s will too, so we don’t end up with mac-n-cheese as her wedding dinner.
Here’s the thing… it's not just your taste buds that change. Your play buds change too.
I was recently interviewed for a podcast by a delightful woman (when it’s live I’ll be sure to post it). She began with one question she asks all of her guests, “Can you share a catalytic event in your life?”
While there have been oodles of “KAPOW!” events, one that was the most impactful – one that literally changed the trajectory of my life and how I share my gifts in the world – was at a week-long Art of Mentoring workshop back in 2003.
After a day of sitting inside, talking about the outside, the facilitators sent us off for a sit spot: simply sitting in nature and paying attention to the world around us.
I walked out of the building, headed in the opposite direction as everyone else, and ...
When the constant pursuit to do more leads to overwhelm and anxiety, it’s easy to find yourself feeling disconnected, exhausted, and missing the juiciest parts of life. For over 17 years, Lynn has been guiding people to reconnect with nature and ceremony, allowing them to reclaim a sense of purpose and embrace peace.