Surrounded by desert grasses and sagebrush on a solo nature walk this morning, I felt entirely reconnected—to myself and to the universe.
I think we’ve all experienced how good it feels to be in nature, whether it’s a dip in the ocean or a walk through the woods.
Ayurveda teaches that this phenomenon is a real thing. It says that the closer we are to nature, the healthier we will be. It’s easy for me to feel and understand this concept at a spiritual, esoteric, “woo-woo” level, but difficult to articulate and explain on the physical plane. Finally, this morning’s walk answered some of the why questions behind this phenomenon.
Being in nature necessitates that our feet are on natural earth. The minute we step onto sand, we feel better. It’s not just because we are “grounded” or reconnected to earth—it’s because when all day long we walk on hard and concrete surfaces, at last our joints get some shock absorption on the soft ground. It’s so simple. Our bodies weren’t designed to walk on concrete floors. They’re designed to walk on dirt—so, of course we feel better in nature.
Looking around at the mountains and the ocean’s horizon, miles and miles away, I realized just how rarely I (and we) use our eyes to focus at a distance. We spend so much time looking at things close up (whether it’s our phones, laptop screens, or another human in front of us), and we live in cities that block our views to the distant nature that we’ve nearly stopped using our eyes in all the ways intended.
Ayurveda teaches that the misuse of our senses is one of the main causes of disease. By spending so much time on our phones and laptops we overuse our sense of sight. And by never using our eyes to look far away, as our ancestors used to when hunting and using stars as their guides, we under-use our sense of long-distance sight.
Being in nature sorts this all out. We are forced to use our eyes in the way they were designed, and it feels good.
The same goes for our sense of hearing. Deep in thought about all this nature stuff, I became acutely aware of the depth of sounds around me. There were birds close by, birds far away, and ocean waves crashing in the distance.
I thought about how much this depth of sound is lacking when I’m at home, closed off from the nature around me. It’s another common under-use of the senses. Re-immersing ourselves in nature helps to sort that all out.
Then there’s sunshine. Walking in nature literally gives us our daily dose of vitamin D, which is so incredibly important to our well-being. So, of course we feel good outside.
We belong in nature. She gives us health. The reasons why are really unnecessary, as an immersion in nature speaks for itself. I hope you’ll be inspired to reconnect with her as soon as you can.
Author: Julie Bernier
Images: elephant archives; Flickr/Zane Mulligan
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Leah Sugerman
Social editor: Callie Rushton