The Tao Te Ching tells us:
When you feel yourself part of nature,
You will live in harmony.
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 13)
Over 25 centuries ago, during the warring states period in ancient China, Lao Tzu found peace and renewed hope by connecting with nature. Walking in the woods and breathing the fresh mountain air, he gained greater peace of mind. Nature brought him lessons of resilience, perseverance, and hope. He learned about the strength of bamboo that bends with the wind so it doesn't break. In the sparkling waters of a mountain stream, he saw how water is gentle and nurturing yet with perseverance can cut through solid rock. In the changing seasons, he discovered the cycles of yin and yang, seeing how the darkness of winter leads to the light of another spring.
Research has confirmed what Lao-Tzu discovered so long ago: that connecting with nature can restore our peace of mind. Studies have shown that walking in a natural setting can relieve stress, anxiety and depression, help us gain a more positive mood, worry less often, and think more clearly.
Connecting with nature makes a major difference in my life. After dealing with a day of stressful demands and deadlines, I find relief just stepping outside. Walking through my neighborhood with my little dog Ginny or hiking in a local park, I feel part of the greater harmony of life. I find consolation in the garden, planting seeds, watching the new plants grow, and enjoying home grown tomatoes, green beans, roses, and gardenias. And at night, gazing up at the stars, I feel a sense of awe at the beauty and grandeur of the cosmos.
Take a moment now to strengthen your own connection with nature.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath and slowly release it.
- Now recall a time in your life when you felt a deep sense of peace and renewal in nature.
- Were you looking out at the ocean, walking in the park, gardening, noticing a tree along the street, looking up at the clouds in the sky, or gazing at the stars at night? Something else?
- What is one small step you can take this week to renew your connection with the natural world?
- Keep that step in mind as you expand your awareness and open your heart to greater peace in the days ahead.
I wish you joy on the path.
 Martyn, P., & Brymer, E. (2016). The relationship between nature relatedness and anxiety. Journal of Health Psychology, 21 (7), 1436-1445; Berman, M.G., Kross, E., Krpan, K.M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., Kaplan, S., Sherdell, L., Gotlip, I. H., Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 140, 300-305; Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R.F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E, Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11, 201-230; Bratman, G. N. , Hamilton, J. P., & Daily, G.C. (2012). The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1249, 118-136.