“Commit to your time in nature and be present when you are out in nature”
As a young boy growing up in a small village in the Rift Valley, I had to walk 7km to school every morning and 7km miles home in the afternoon. I usually ran it! 7km of vast open burnt orange land, deep woodland, and animals to greet along the way. (sometimes the cause for me running!)
My evenings would be spent with my friends climbing trees, swimming in rivers, chasing cows, and my evenings were spent hiding from snakes and scorpions!
When I moved to the West Midlands at the age of 13, it was a huge shock to my system. I suddenly found myself in a concrete land. My 3km run to school through Bilston was no longer filled with fresh oxygen and nurturing visual sites. My feet no longer touched the warm earth with its nutrient-rich dust, and my ears no longer heard the distant sounds of elephants calling to their young.
For a few months, I was most definitely ‘down in the dumps’.
And then I discovered football!
Suddenly my days were filled with running on the moist green grass of Bilston parks, breathing the fresh oxygen of the surrounding beautiful ancient green trees, with the sounds of dogs playing with their owners. Something inside me came back to life. My enthusiasm, my excitement, my joy, all ignited like a fire. I was alive again.
I realised very quickly that nature feeds me in some extraordinary way. And I have come to the conclusion that humans need regular contact with and time in nature in order to feel content, calm & happy.
I consider time in nature to be one of the secret keys to living a fulfilled life.
Whether it be the effect of fresh oxygen on our brain chemistry, the calming effect of the sound of trees rustling on the nervous system, the pineal gland stimulation from the sight of the bright colours of flowers and trees, or simply giving yourself time away from the hustle and bustle of life’s responsibilities….humans respond very positively to time spent in nature.
Personally, I make it a discipline to spend time in nature every single day. Although it’s not really a discipline. It is a deep need. Even if I have only 10 minutes to spare, I will throw on my walking shoes and head on out into the mountains, I will walk through wet moss barefoot, I will lie on the grass and gaze at the clouds, I will take 60 seconds to listen out for the sounds of the birds. I will sit beside a waterfall and breath in the negative ions the water releases as it crashes onto the rocks. And I feel INSTANTLY different. I feel ‘re-set’. Grounded. Focused. Like my entire brain and nervous system has switched on and fired up, ready for the day. A huge smile inexplicably breaks out across my face and I begin my day with power, focus & joy.
I also head out into nature if I have a ‘problem’ I need to figure out, a situation that I need clarity on, a plan I need to think through. My answers and solutions come faster, clearer and louder when I am in nature. They are also generally much more effective!
A key to maximising the effects of spending time in nature is to ensure you are fully ‘present’. Allow yourself to fully absorb the benefits of spending time in nature. Allow yourself to enjoy it, and not feel guilty for doing something that is nurturing and supporting you.
You may enjoy learning a few breathing techniques from yoga, or learning a simple meditation practice that you can do beside any river, waterfall, or rock you find yourself next to!
We are moving so fast in our incredible digital age, and it is easy to lose track of simple things that keep us grounded, emotionally stable and mentally focused. Life demands a lot from us. Nature does not. Nature feeds us, nurtures us, restores us, strengthens us. In a very physical way.
Discovering this simple daily practice of getting out from under a roof to allow the sky to be your roof is one of the most powerful keys to living a fulfilled life that I can ever share with you.
One of my idols, Albert Einstein said this:
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Never a truer word spoken.