Take Care of Yourself to Care for the Living World

Doctors can now give out A Prescription for Nature (parkprescriptions.ca) or PaRx to get patients into nature at least two hours per week. To treat mental and physical health problems, Canadian health care professionals give a free Parks Canada Discovery Pass, worth $70.

While we’ve long understood that Vitamin “N” (for “nature”) is essential for healthy human function, we’re finally acting on that understanding. Nature is good for learning, health and well-being!

The healing and spiritual perks of time in nature are also acknowledged around the world.

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Six nature-lovin’ terms to experience

Dadirri (pronounced da-did-ee): Deep listening and inner quiet that can arise from contemplating the quietude and beauty of nature. It’s from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal peoples of the Daly River region (Northern Territory, Australia). It’s a spiritual skill based on respect.

Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv): A way of life spent exploring and appreciating nature. It’s a Nordic term used to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.

Komorebi (pronounced koh-mo-reh-bee): A Japanese word to describe the light that dapples the forest floor as it’s filtered through the leaves.

Meriggiare: An Italian term (verb) that means to rest at noon—the hottest hours of the day—in the shade. Tip: listen online for a pronunciation.

Petrichor (pronounced pe-tre-kor): The distinctive musty or earthy smell of rain as it hits dry earth. A term coined by Australian scientists in 1964.

Waldeinsamkeit (pronounced vahyd-ahyn-zahm-kahyt): The feelings or emotions you have when being alone in the woods.

Reflect on the terms or test them out yourself! You’ll impress your nature lovin’ friends no matter your accent.

When we take care of ourselves, we also take care of the living world. As a family, explore a few acts of mindfulness to foster play, rest and joy:

Family portrait. Recall a happy moment with your family. Hold that image. Now use your family members to recreate it! Parents, grandparents, and siblings take a still position to illustrate your happiest moment. Maybe a parent becomes a tree? Or your sibling is the family pet? Take turns, then reflect on how it was to play different people and how it felt to share this moment with others. Source: Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village Community.

Sky meditation. Bring happiness and compassion to yourself and others. Lay comfortably on your back and look up at the boundless sky. (Don’t stare at the sun, it’s okay to blink!) Allow your thoughts and emotions to pass by like clouds. Can you become one with the sky? Can your mind have a quality of vast, open and limitless? Stay here a few minutes, breathing deeply. Close your meditation, by becoming aware of your body touching the surface of grass, sand or whatever your surroundings. Reflect on your feelings of freedom and peace. Tip: You can also practice indoors with a view of the sky. Source: adapted from Gelong Thubten’s book, A Monk’s Guide to Happiness.

Behold. Go into your garden, a patch of forest or stretch of beach. Practice being present by noticing a tree, the water, a stone or flower. Notice but don’t assign it an adjective. Let it be. Beholding means you don’t judge whether it’s your favourite kind of tree, or if it’s a beautiful flower. In non-judgement you enter a different state of being and open to a deep sense of wonder. This is communion, a true source of joy! (Hint: after practicing on flowers, try to behold people.)

Walking meditation. This practice deepens our connection with our body and the earth. Each step brings us healing and happiness. Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth, go slow. Remember that you have a body! From this connection you experience aliveness. Walking meditation brings body and mind together peacefully. When we see our anger or sadness clearly, it dissolves. We feel more compassion for ourselves and others. “Walking meditation should not be work. It is very pleasant, especially in the early morning when the air is still very fresh. When we walk mindfully, we see the beauty and the wonder of the earth around us, and we wake up. We see that we are living a very wonderful moment.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Science shows a daily dose of Vitamin “N” helps: 

Moderate the effect of stressful events (e.g., moving, loss of a loved one, divorce, etc.)

Improve cognitive function, self-discipline and resilience under stress

Improve impulse control and boost immune function

Reduce obesity, stress and the incidence of clinical depression

Reduce symptoms of attention-deficit disorders

Boost immunity, energy levels and creativity

Decrease blood sugars

Make people more generous

Lower rates of aggression

Combat loneliness

Lindsay Coulter
Lindsay Coulterhttps://www.epiclearningcommunity.ca/
Lindsay Coulter is a writer, educator, facilitator, naturalist, creator of culture, soul activist, and mother of two. She’s the co-founder of EPIC Learning Community a forest and nature school in Victoria, B.C., Program Coordinator at Victoria Nature School and in the process of attaining her certification in Equine Facilitated Wellness.