Friday, 5 October 2012

Connecting with Nature, or Why It’s Important To Hug Trees

Nature is all around us, regardless of whether you are in the middle of the countryside or in the middle of a city. Admittedly, it is easier to see in a park or in the country than it is in a big city, but it is always there, whether you can see it or not. Part of the ability to see nature everywhere comes from being connected with it. In this twenty first century, with its expanding settlements and waves of technology, people are becoming more and more distanced from nature and unable to see the wonders she can bring, even if they like on their very doorsteps.

Pagans, you would think, would be the last people to be disconnected with nature, with their Earth based religions, moon worship and appreciation of our ancient lands. Though this is not always the case and I find pagans too can be prone to disconnecting from nature from time to time due to life stresses, family commitments, work etc. Over time I have become disconnected for these reasons, moving from the country to busy towns however, was the first thing to block me.

Coming from a village where I was surrounded by fields, with a stream at the bottom of the garden, surrounded by hills, the concrete world of a busy town was completely foreign to me as a place to live. Although I passed through parks to get to work, would occasionally marvel at squirrels, and delight at the colours of spring and autumn, something wasn’t right. The nature didn’t feel accessible to me although it was always within reach. I couldn’t see the stars at night due to the light pollution, I daren’t wander around barefoot in fear of treading in some errant dog mess and I’m not sure I could have even brought myself to hug a tree. I’m not sure things got much better initially when I moved to my next concrete based prison, though this place had something different about it. It had history, and that history left a beautiful energy.

I soon felt a pull, towards parks, with rivers or wild places, cared for enough I could go barefoot, sit against a tree and feeling that energy seep into me, feeling that almighty love within I used to feel when connecting with deity back home. Empowered by both the energy of the ancestors of this place and the energy of nature. This energy changed me, from the dark, woeful girl of my teenage years in to something much happier and loving, in only a year I had changed dramatically. And it was in this concrete town, with its various energies I first saw the God in the way he wished to be seen by me. Now that was a magical moment! I now see nature everywhere, even in the busiest of places, be it a single bird song above the din of traffic, a spider making a web in a shop doorway, the smell of weather turning or even just the chill of winter frosts. I smile at each of these things in turn and feel that love in my heart that lets me know that deity is there, my God & Goddess by my side, still surprising me.

Through this I learnt the importance of nature. I now know that having a physical connection to nature is vital to human beings.

One day, not so long ago, I was walking through a small church garden on my way to work. The garden was empty, save a few birds and the odd squirrel. There were trees surrounding me, grass and bushes, but I felt very disconnected. I felt as though they were out of reach, there but no there. I craved the touch of them, I wanted to walk barefoot in the grass, touch the trees and the flowers. Embrace it. I craved it, I needed it and I believe it’s a connection we all need. How many of us can say we’re in touch with nature daily? Even weekly?

There are many ways to start, connecting with nature. I believe the best way is to go to a park, perhaps a quiet corner if one can be found, and sit under a tree, pressing your back against the bark. Close your eyes and let the energy from the tree and the Earth embrace you. You will feel more relaxed with every breath you take. Pay attention to the noises you hear, how many different birds are there? If the wind is blowing listen to the whispering of the trees and let them ease you into this meditation.

It has been proven that “tree hugging” increases happiness, being in nature increases happiness. This physical connection not only increases your happiness but it allows deity into your heart. It allows you to feel your God and/or Goddess by your side. That overwhelming feel of love, personally, puts me on a high that lasts for ages.

Without nature and without the contact and feeling the energies I would be a very different person to who I am today. So take ten minutes, five if it’s all you have. Go outside, sit with nature and let it truly surprise you.

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