30th July 2021

Some studies say that we humans need to expose ourselves to the natural world for at least five hours each month – that means spending five hours outdoors in the fresh air – in order to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. Others claim that we should go out for at least ten minutes a day, and yet others recommend thirty minutes a day.

There are many more studies which recommend anything in between five minutes and two hours per day or more. The main idea is that it does us good to spend time outside in the fresh air.

mountains


We are all individual beings living a unique life here on planet earth. As such, we each respond to external stimuli differently and require more or less of some inputs as opposed to others, at different times and in varying quantities. It is therefore up to each of us to individually determine how much exposure we need to the great outdoors and for what benefit.

I love nature. I absolutely adore the natural world and all that is in it and that it stands for. To me it is a drug that I categorically cannot do without. It is only when I am in nature that I find my true bliss. If I don’t have my daily exposure to the elements, I soon get crabby and short-tempered. Indeed, it’s as though all the qualities that I hold as important (patience, tolerance, trust, love, compassion, kindness, acceptance, to name but a few) get thrown out the window when I don’t get my adequate nature fix. And it’s not just a daily fix I’m talking about either.


butterflyOver the past decade, I’ve come to realise that I need longer intervals of exposure and immersion in the natural world periodically throughout a year. And so, given the time, the money, effort and training (and myriad other factors that are too irrelevant and numerous to mention here), I may set off and do the Camino one year, loosing myself entirely to the present moment as I walk day after day for a month with very few distractions.

A few months later, I may be itching to go walking again and find myself working on yet another new ‘get-into-nature’ project: perhaps following a big GR (Grand Randonnée) walking route through France for a week or ten days; or, having rented a gîte as a base for a week, I may out exploring the local countryside each day, coming back each evening to restful silence and meditation in solitude and some plain old home cooking.

Whatever the project and for whatever the supposed reason for going, I’ve come to realise that at the end of the day they are no more than transparent excuses to get outdoors and sit and walk, write and meditate, sleep and daydream in nature uninterrupted by normal daily life.


sunriseI’ve also come to see and value these ‘get-into-nature’ periods as my sacred time out of the norm, a time in which I re-attune all my six senses back into nature’s rich and bountiful beauty. It’s my hallowed time to reconnect my essence with the real reality, a reality I also perceive as the meaningful truth of life.


The gentle, wisping tickle of a warm summer breeze on my face; the seemingly aimless and lazy drift of cumulus clouds across an azure blue sky; the intoxicating scent of wild honeysuckle and broom filling the air to choking; the cacophony of cicadas announcing their albeit brief summer existence into being, deafening me all the while; the tumultuous green wild rocket growing by the wayside calling me to taste it and still surprising me every single time with its bitterness; and the sometimes unsettling, always slightly spooky feeling, of being followed and scrutinised by invisible eyes as I forever fail in my endeavours to silently creep down the austere and verdant forest paths. 

mountainsThe seemingly chaotic dance of the butterflies, jumping in and out of the hedgerows right in front of my nose, teasing and cajoling me for my slow reactions, always staying one foot ahead of me, until I laugh and concede victory to them and watch wide-eyed as they merrily flutter on by. And the bees, always busy buzzing, taking life so seriously, never stopping to chat, always sniffing out the sweetest of nectars close by. Perfectly charming and honest, always gentle, never aggressive, they completely ignore me unless I wave a hand to suddenly pique their curiosity. 

butterflyAnd if I get lucky when out ambling alone, the absolute masters of cheekiness, the dragonflies may even join me, zipping on by, whirling and twirling in death-defying loops, showing off and making me dizzy trying to follow their crazy antics. Truly, I find they are the most outrageous of aeronauts in the insect world. Perhaps it’s due to their in-built longevity as a species, perhaps because they appear as care-free daredevils; whatever the reason, to my mind they are the happiest and most proud show-offs. And justly so.


The natural world is so rich and so busy, so beautiful and so varied, so honest and true, … It leaves me endlessly and hopelessly in love with it all. Nature is my drug and without it I feel incomplete, less than whole, purposeless, worthless and irrelevant.

flowerI often catch myself marvelling at how wonderful my life would be if only I could devote my whole life to being part of nature, loving it and protecting it, to keeping the world a safe and happy place for all sentient beings, looking after my mother earth and all my sweet relatives both large and small. And then I stop myself as I come to realise each time and without fail that if only we all cared enough to play our small part in doing this – being consciously aware and careful of the imprints we leave in our daily lives and endeavouring to minimise our negative imprint for the benefit of all – then the world would be transformed in a jiffy.

If only we all cared just a little bit more. It doesn’t take much to stop for breath and take a few moments to consider life a little more profoundly and become a bit more aware, a bit more informed. If only more people stopped to think and maybe even come to realise that unless we look after and heal the natural world, nurturing all sentient beings and restoring the health of the planet, we have no future.


damselflyFor me, nature, I realise, is not just my drug, not simply my daily fix, not something my mind and body depend on. True nature is my breath, my soul, my life and my bliss. Without it, I am … nothing.

I feel resolved now to go savour it as much as I can, enjoying it, delighting in it, appreciating and relishing it, and helping others I meet along the way to also reap the same benefits from the natural world, if not more. Learning to take pleasure in the outdoor world enables us to enjoy and appreciate it. The more people appreciate it, the more we help look after it. So, go get outdoors everyone!!!! Go immerse yourselves in it, flourish and thrive from being in it, find your bliss in it, and encourage everyone you know to go and to the same.


clouds

Nature, I realise, is not just our drug, not simply our daily fix, not something our mind and body depend on. True nature is our breath, at the core of our soul, our life and our bliss. Without it, we are all … nothing.