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As a health care practitioner with a keen interest in functional health, I often suggest that spending time in nature is an important factor in regaining and maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health.
Walking, biking, gardening, skiing, sailing, and running are all great ways to get outside and be active. I tend to think of this as “big nature,” and it is magnificent.
But there is also “small nature,” an intimate nature, which is no less amazing.
When I slow down, breathe, and unplug, I notice the incredible beauty that is right in front of me—all the time, everywhere.
Sometimes, it’s in the least expected places:
A sunny, yellow dandelion pushing its way through a crack in the sidewalk.
A tiny bird nest tucked carefully into the space behind the electric meter.
The way snowflakes drift down from the sky.
The snowflakes themselves.
I find that when I pause and take notice of these small, perfect miracles all around us, I feel calmer and less stressed. The beauty of nature lights a spark of joy inside me. Sometimes I find answers, but mostly I find peace.
But this only happens if I’m not on my phone, or running while thinking through a problem I need to solve later that day, or rushing to get to the next place. And it doesn’t happen when I’m in my car or my office.
It doesn’t usually happen spontaneously, but only when I choose to consciously take notice.
The dying words of the samurai warrior, Katsumoto, in the 2003 movie “The Last Samurai” sum it up so beautifully:
“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one and it would not be a wasted life. Perfect…they are all…perfect.”
I invite you to try this:
Find a small part of nature to focus on.
Fix your eyes on a pine cone, a small creature hard at work, a naked tree branch, or whatever is near you where you are right now.
Breathe in deeply, right into your belly, to the count of four, and release the breath gently for a count of six.
Repeat. Keep your focus on the small bit of nature.
If only for a moment, be.
I would love to hear how it goes.