Risa Bos, LMHC
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Earlier this week, we celebrated Earth Day—a day devoted to protecting the environment through awareness and advocacy for a clean Earth. There were people who planted trees, held drives to protect wetlands and wildlife, participated in beautification and clean-up projects, and otherwise took part in green activities. It reminded me of the awesome power of nature, and how being outdoors can help with emotional wellness, too.
The earth, the soil, the ground holds almost magical healing properties within its minerals, textures and raw foundation for growth. Working with your hands in the soil can not only be gratifying through what you cultivate and grow, it can literally “ground” you and sooth anxiety and depression. Next time you feel sad or stuck, give yourself a break to get dirty! Go outside and put your hands in the soil—no gardening gloves for this exercise—and just allow the warmth, minerals and energy to be absorbed.
Grounding is fundamental to our emotional balance. Associated with the First Chakra, or Muladhara, feeling supported and rooted in this world is the foundation for our sense of safety and support. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, and it supports the rest of the chakras system. The practice of grounding is essential for inner calm and serenity. Some of my favorite grounding practices are:
- Sitting cross-legged, or in lotus position, ideally outside on the ground. To achieve the best results, do this in a meditative attitude. Allow the base of your spine to really connect with and feel supported by the earth. Take a few moments to really get situated, and allow your hands to feel the earth, the grass, the soil.
- Put your bare feet in the grass. Did you love running around barefoot as a child? I can still remember one of the harshest punishments my parents used was to make me wear shoes to go outside and play! I absolutely loved being barefoot, and feeling the textures of the grass, the sidewalk, the trees I climbed.
- Feel your foundation. Stand with your feet about hip width apart, again this is best when done outside. Allow your weight to be distributed, and feel the four corners of your feet supporting your posture. Be reminded of how you are supported in your life, and how you support others.
- Do yoga outdoors! For those who don’t know, we have a fabulous resource weekly through Yoga in Lake Eola Park. Every Sunday, with a few exceptions for annual events, there is a mass gathering of yogis and yoginis at 11:00 m. for an all-levels yoga practice. Amanda Reh, who founded Yoga in the Park, also has several other outdoor yoga practices throughout the week. You can find these listed on the Yoga in Lake Eola Park Facebook page.
I have gotten back to nature in recent months, as I have taken up hiking with an enthusiastic friend. We go at least once a week and hike the trails at Wekiwa Springs. It is so pristine and beautiful on the trails, and I find that my mind is clear and my problems evaporate for those two hours, usually with lingering positive effects. We often see deer, who don’t appear to be phased by our presence, and who will just allow you to stand and watch them with awe. Wild turkeys, cranes, raccoons and bunnies are common sights as well. Here in Central Florida, we have many parks, trails and other outdoor sanctuaries we can enjoy through most of the year. And if you don’t have easy access to one of these beautiful settings, go for a walk around your neighborhood. Really focus on the colors, the textures, the sounds, and breathe the fresh air. Turn your face to the sun like the sunflowers do, and absorb that great Vitamin D from the sun.
Take a break from your electronic devices and start making grounding a ritual as part of your overall wellness routine. Take your lunch break outside! Find a bench or just sit on the ground, and connect with nature. If you need help finding grounding or getting unstuck, we have an expert therapist for any emotional need you may have. Take that first courageous step and call us; we can help. (407) 355-7378
If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.
~Vincent Van Gogh