As a young mother struggling with a tumultuous relationship, I found solace in nature.
The disordered landscape gave me comfort knowing that however, things appear there is always a relationship between the trees, oceans, animals and we as human beings; an interconnectedness that was beyond the perception of what is seen. An immersive experience through our senses of belonging to something bigger than our mind and limited perception, whether emotional barriers or otherwise.
Over the last 18 years, my life has taken many turns. The hardship of sole parenting, moving interstate solo and starting again, new jobs roles and all the dynamic learning and growing that comes with maturity. A constant throughout these phases of my life was the time I spent in nature, gathering my thoughts, connected to the natural world and simply taking a hike to test my strength and resilience; both physically and psychologically.
It’s a simple concept, to step outside the walls that constrict our mind and immerse the senses in sight, sounds, smell, touch, the taste of nature. The natural world has a profound effect on our emotional regulation, nervous, digestive, immune systems. We thrived on our connection with the land and the relationship is reciprocal.
When you find stillness near a waterfall and allow your emotions to flow like the falling water, there is a sense of letting go, allowing things to rise and pour over the edge, met with a compassionate observance and let go; washed away. Feeling cleansed, we feel lighter, more able to face the next challenge that we face stronger, more resilient.
Hiking can be as easy or challenging as you wish. It’s an autonomous activity that activates both hemispheres of the brain allowing you to tap into the creative, explorative parts of your mind that may be deeply neglected. I know myself that as a mother, I often ‘don’t have time’ or at least tell myself for explorative creative play, so the pleasure of a hike and walking with the inspired thoughts and ingenious ideas that come ignites the soul like a paintbrush of an artist on the canvas.
In the depth of a cool Pine forest, with each inhalation, I am met with the distinct aroma released from the trees. Phytoncides are the natural oils released by the trees and act as a defence to protect them from insects, bacteria and fungi. When we inhale these oils they provide not only the aromatherapy benefits of stress reduction and anxiety relief but they also help to boost our immune system too! Smells provide a nostalgic memory recall and for many, Pines remind me of a fresh Christmas tree and times spent with family.
So what about the sounds of natural silence?
In our modern world and urban sprawl, we experience high levels of noise with many unable to enjoy the restorative sounds of peace and quiet of nature. Free of human noise, when we are outdoors, we have the opportunity to listen to the sounds that only nature affords. Have you noticed that all of the mediation APPS have sounds of nature; a waterfall, rain, waves or birdsong?
As primal creatures, humans were designed to tune into the sounds of our natural environment. Nature sounds are so prevalently used on Mindful apps as they have been proven to naturally relieve stress, anxiety and promote relaxation. Studies show that nature sounds not only calm the nervous system from the flight- fight into rest and digest of the parasympathetic nervous system, but they also positively affect blood pressure, metabolism, and digestion.
When we are in nature, we turn our attention outwards into the natural environment, heightened awareness to our senses and away from the inward-focused attention of rumination or anxiety. We step out of the constructs of my mind and perceived challenge’s and into the untapped potential that only nature provides. Through hiking and connecting to nature through all our senses we can experience the restorative powers and gain understanding the impacts it has on our holistic health.
Are you ready to wash off 2020 and take a walk on the wild side?