This morning I climbed to what seemed to be the top of the city of Los Angeles. I do this many mornings. Or other times of day or night depending on my schedule. But today I did it with the intention to celebrate the International Day of Peace by creating some inner peace within myself.
This can be challenging in a massive, sprawling urban area, which is why I often climb to the top of things; there are less people and more quiet the higher you go. The rushing traffic is replaced with rustling leaves. Loud, nonsensical monologues are replaced with melodic bird songs. Glimpses of buildings in the horizon resemble an abstraction of the previous night’s dream.
Breath becomes easier. Thoughts clear. And a sense of peace bathes my heart and soul.
The concept of “peace” is often discussed in the global sense, such as “What can we do to create world peace?” Ironically the single most important thing we can all do to create world peace is to individually create peace within ourselves. Only then are we actually able to spread peace to those around us. While there are many ways to create peace from within, spending time in nature is often the easiest.
Nature connects us to something larger than ourselves. It heals the mind and boosts creativity. It relieves attention fatigue and decreases stress. Moving in the outdoors improves physical health. Essentially nature is a free holistic health service that allows us to feel more peaceful within. Even if we don’t venture to the highest point we can find.
So what are some other ways to connect with Mother Nature’s healing ways if climbing mountains isn’t quite your thing? Here are 5 suggestions:
Mindfully Hike/Walk/Run. However you want to word it, put one foot in front of the other and really notice how it is to experience that moment. Pay attention to how your foot strikes the terrain. Take in all the smells of flowers, trees and wildlife. Look intimately at all the sights you come across. Listen to all of the sounds. Taste anything there is to (safely) taste. Even if it’s a location you’ve been to a million times pretend it’s your first time and see if you notice anything new. You can also mindfully bike, cross-country ski or any other physical activity you can think of. Dance through that forest if you must!
Match Nature’s Pace. We often run ourselves ragged desperately trying to reach inorganic destinations (whether concrete or abstract). Nature, however, has it’s own timing and that timing is perfect. Everything always works out beautifully in nature. So slow it down for a bit. Walk slower. Breathe slower. Allow yourself to experience everything working out in the time it’s meant to.
Go Barefoot. Reconnect with the earth. This is a truly grounding experience. There are all kinds of religious and spiritual references to us being of the dirt. And there’s just something so satisfying about your toes touching wet grass or the fresh dirt.
Sit Under a Tree. Or by a river. Or next to a cactus. And read a book. Or draw. Or write. Or simply sit. Meditate the heck out of that tree. Or river. Or cactus. You get the idea.
Sleep Outside. Now I know camping isn’t for everyone. But there are all kinds of options now. You can glamp. Rent a cabin or a camper. Pitch a tent in your own backyard right next to that new spa tub. Hang a hammock or lie down a blanket and take a day-time nap. When you wake up to the naturally occurring sunrise (Fingers crossed!) and birds chirping you automatically experience a sense of calm that never comes with an alarm clock.
Take Care of Her. Too often our green space is exploited for purposes of greed and/or out of ignorance. This not only decreases the amount of access we have to nature but it also creates health and safety problems for all of us human beings, other beings of this planet, and our planet overall. So to give back so Mother Nature can keep on giving to us get on out there and pick up some trash, rebuild some trails, or whatever it is that you can do to help her out.
So make Mother Nature your... well, you know... In the positive way. She wants you to commune with her. We are a part of nature and when we forget that we are not at peace. That's why it's vital to remain as connected as possible to her. There are an infinite amount of ways to do that so these 6 suggestions are simply to get you started on your journey to inner peace.