Until a few years ago, I didn’t consider myself an “outdoor” type of person. When I consider that I now feel out of sync if I don’t spend time outdoors every day and that I also spent most of my childhood outside, this old belief is hilarious. I grew up walking less than five minutes from the sea in a village in the south of Dublin. How is the path of those of us who had a “retro” childhood in which your parents took you out at every opportunity and told you not to come back until your tea was ready, I wandered, explored and played in the fields and forests. I climbed trees, was bitten by mosquitoes and taffans, picked berries and went barefoot.
Adulthood with his study, partying, traveling and then work came, however, and I forgot my relationship with the outside world. Still, looking back, I remember how some of the crucial moments in my life were after the time spent in nature where, as in childhood, I had an honest conversation with myself or a loved one. In recent years, as I have navigated self-employment, grief, and increased self-care, the use of nature to aid communication and well-being has become paramount.
It’s fascinating how we could have unexpressed thoughts and feelings bouncing through that spring as we walk.
Walking and talking, however, once we separate from home and immerse ourselves in our surroundings and the rhythm of our body, becomes meditative.
Even when we begin our walk feeling hurt, stressed, or upset, we cannot help but give in to the energy of life around us. We notice the branches crunching under our feet and the birds we don’t hear when we’re home. The views catch us, and the smells make us pay attention. Climbing logs, dodging poop, muddy puddles, and scratching branches; sailing on abundant rocks and pebbles, or wrapping ourselves in the wind, force us to Stay there. We can’t help but feel alive even though we feel depressed.
With each step, we gradually release and relax. The voltage is turned off. And then the courage and bandwidth to tackle an issue temporarily increases because we are open enough feel our feelings and notice our thoughts. And so, let’s start talking.
Going into deep conversations and what may seem complicated and catchy is something we humans tend to avoid. Outdoor weather, however, often changes that.
Nature becomes a mediator, a neutral part that we unload in the presence of.
Expressing ourselves may seem easier and less contentious when we are outdoors instead of, for example, sitting in front of each other. Let’s say we feel stressed and upset because of homework. Addressing this issue far from home while walking makes it seem less like we’re opening a discussion in the middle of exposure A to Z.
Sometimes when we are face to face, we are so busy trying to read the other person’s facial expression and, yes, projecting our version of events and what we are feeling and thinking that our intentions and message are confused.
Walking and talking is a way of being vulnerable without being too focused on the fact that we are doing it.
We need to be aware of our surroundings and ourselves and the other person on the move at the same time. We can’t try to read your facial and body language i walk and talk. Instead, we need to be aware, aware, and present, and trust the flow of the conversation. It makes us notice ourselves and the person we are walking with rather than blurring the distinction. We also remember ours and their humanity.
Even when we are not with someone, walking through nature and getting into the rhythm of our own nature can give us the clarity and impetus to talk to a loved one when we return. It is difficult to hold our breath when we are in nature, which, by the way, many of us do every day. We juggle stress and tension without even realizing that we are juggling. And we postpone self-care to a future point where we hope that life will leave us enough to give ourselves time.
Nature demands that we breathe with it, that we connect with its rhythm. And this recalibration and change allows us to inhale and exhale enough value the benefit of reconnecting with a loved one (or with ourselves) through discussion.
A slightly different version of this article was featured in a print edition of In The Moment magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine was shut down due to the pandemic.
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