Like most little children, when you were young you probably loved being in nature. You would run around in your backyard rolling around in the grass, picking up little critters, and embracing the warm sun. Being in nature taught you to be curious about the world around you. It brought you a sense of overwhelming happiness, and though you may not have realized it you had a unique connection to the outside world.

Somewhere, as you got older, you may have lost that connection. You traded playtime outside with video games, shopping trips and time with friends. In college you learned what it truly means to be busy – further taking you away from the natural, relaxed rhythm of nature. This only continued once you got into the workforce, got married, or had kids. You became totally disconnected from nature.

You aren’t alone. In today’s society any free moment we have is given to our iPhones or long to-do lists. However this is a serious problem. Connecting with Mother Earth can be such a crucial part of your overall health. Spending time in nature gives you the opportunity to slow down, connect with yourself, slow down and remember what’s important to you. Nature will quiet your mind, open your heart and invite ease into your body.

Change Your Mindset

The first step in connecting your spirit with nature is realizing that you are already a part of nature, and not separate from it. Realize that nature is not just something on the outside in your environment, but a part of your very being. Your body is made up of all the same elements, minerals and energy that makes up the planet. We are in tune with how the planet goes about each day, and you can see this in your body’s natural circadian rhythm for example. For those that really spend time in nature, meditation can help you connect to your extended body on an even deeper level. When you allow yourself to have an open mind, you can more readily accept what nature is trying to teach you.

Connect With Your Senses

When is the last time you slowed down and actively became present in the moment? Go outside and make contact with the earth. Feel the dirt beneath your feet. Smell the newly bloomed flowers, and taste the salty air. Pause and focus on each of your senses one by one. Really listen to what your body is telling you. This will give you a moment of deep relaxation and boost your overall happiness. Journal about your experiences and how each of the senses felt when you focused on them. Reflect back on how that made you feel, and acknowledge anything it may have taught you.

Explore Somewhere New

If you want to connect to yourself on a deeper level you need to get out into nature – but it doesn’t have to be the same place you always go. While there is no issue with surrounding yourself with the familiar, going out and exploring something new can give you a new perspective. When you’re in a new environment, you can learn about the different minerals that make it special, study the new trees and flowers, or make friends with its new creatures. Try climbing a boulder or mountain, doing yoga in a local park, or taking a run on a sandy beach. By taking on new challenges you can build self-confidence and feel more empowered.

Spend Time Alone

While it’s great to get social interaction, when we’re with other people we tend to talk to each other. We see silence as uncomfortable, get worried about what people think of us, and edit ourselves to ensure we’re behaving according to social rules. All of these social patterns make it difficult to connect with nature and yourself. Communicating with nature works best in solitude because those distractions aren’t there. This includes not bringing your phone with you, or anything else that can take your focus away. If you’re spending the day hiking with a friend, ask to spend an hour by yourself. You might be surprised to find that your companion appreciates this as much as you do.

Find Life Lessons

You learned a lot as a child about what nature can teach you about life, but some of those lessons may have been lost in the shuffle. Ask yourself what you want to learn from being in nature. Maybe you want to be reminded to appreciate the small things, learn how to be humble in such a large world, or how patience is a virtue. When you go to spend time outside, say your goal out loud and focus on it while you make your journey. Reflect on these lessons regularly to help you stay connected.

You are able to tap into any part of nature, because it is inherently in you. No matter how long you stay indoors, at a desk or under fluorescent lighting. The truth remains that you are nature and nothing can take that away from you.

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