Nature’s Therapy For The Modern Mind
Our modern world is filled with many fascinating and amazing things. Although we mostly take the marvels of science and technology for granted, it is mind-boggling when you stop to think about it. Smartphones come to my mind first. I still remember the first iPhone I got back in the "old days" and how shocked I was the first time I saw someone enlarge the web page with their thumb and forefinger or print something from their phone using Bluetooth technology. Now, it's just an everyday thing. But even things long since with us, like our lit cities and temperature-controlled homes, would have seemed like sorcery to people in the semi-recent past. I'm grateful for all of these things--especially our modern day medicine.
I do ponder, though, the effect of continually being surrounded by the hum and buzz of our modern world. It's easy to forget that we ourselves are part of nature. It wasn't THAT long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that we were enmeshed in the natural rhythms of the great outdoors, sheltered by animal skins or mud or straw and fed by what nature itself provided.
I'm certainly not advocating that we go back to those days, as I am much too fond of running hot water. I do think there is still something deep inside of us that heals when we go out into the green sanctuaries and wilder places for our own sanity and peace of mind. Many, many Americans spend the vast majority of their lives surrounded by walls and electric light and are most often entertained by the digital pixels we've created, essentially staring for hours and hours at a flat screen. It doesn't seem strange, generally--but try turning it all off for an hour and see how the vibe changes.
My sister was just talking to me the other day about this very thing. The storm we had recently in East Texas knocked out their power for several hours. Although at first it was a letdown, she said that after a couple of hours, she and her family began to feel a slower, calmer pace. They lit candles as the sun was going down and there was a sense of peace. When the power did come back on, it was the tiniest bit disappointing--just for a moment--and then life returned to normal.
Again, I'm not advocating we all turn off the power forever, but perhaps this is indicative? Maybe just a gentle reminder to go outside and explore and just be a little more often. Let it get quiet. Put away the electric hums for a moment. Listen to the birds, smell the rain, or cook over an open fire (safely.) It's funny, but sometimes if I've not been in nature for awhile I have felt slightly anxious when I'm outside for more time than it takes to walk from one place to the car to another place and so on. But then, slowly and gently, I can feel my rhythm start to change, too. I realize the anxiety was not from being "unplugged" for awhile, but rather because I hadn't unplugged in awhile. My heart softens and my incessant dialogue seems to sweeten its tone.
Just today, I was feeling slightly overstimulated after the weekend's schedule. And so, my friend and I decided it was time for a break and headed over to a botanical garden nearby. Again, being in the quiet green of the garden made the buzz of my heart and mind seem even louder. As we walked through the twisting garden paths and stopped at at the koi pond and sat near the flowers, slowly and gently the peace began to settle and my breathing pace slowed. It never fails for me.
If you're finding the buzz of the modern world particularly stressful today, try returning to the natural world just a little while. It could be the therapy you're looking for. All the toys and bells and whistles of the modern world will be waiting for you when you get home--and you'll probably enjoy them even more.