Research done by David Strayer has proven that being in nature reduces activity in the prefrontal cortex which assists in the restoration of this region. He also proved that the levels of theta and alpha wave activity are lower while in nature which translates to having a more rested brain. This is just one of the many studies that support how being in nature benefits our mind and body. Every time I am in nature, I always feel more alive and generally better. I really loved my time learning more about what having Nature as a value means to me and I hope you enjoy the rest of my post.
the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth
late 13c., “restorative powers of the body, bodily processes; powers of growth;” from Old French nature “nature, being, principle of life; character, essence,” from Latin natura “course of things; natural character, constitution, quality; the universe,” literally “birth,” from natus “born,” past participle of nasci “to be born,” from PIE root *gene- “give birth, beget.”
By mid-14c. as “the forces or processes of the material world; that which produces living things and maintains order.” From late 14c. as “creation, the universe;” also “heredity, birth, hereditary circumstance; essential qualities, inherent constitution, innate disposition” (as in human nature); also “nature personified, Mother Nature.” Nature and nurture have been paired and contrasted since Shakespeare’s “Tempest.”
Nature is the most tangible ideal I have explored so far. It isn’t an abstract word that can be interpreted in many ways. Nature is a very real thing that can be seen all around us. For my purposes, I explored the nature pertaining to the definition seen above. However, I believe it is important to recognize some deeper features than simply just identifying the parts it is composed of. The representation of nature as a whole and the feelings it provokes are also very important to me when defining this value. The definition I landed on is seen below:
Nature: The ultimate expression of energy and creation that invokes a feeling of oneness.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”-Lao Tzu
“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”-Walt Whitman
I chose a humanoid figure as the symbol for Nature which seems counterintuitive but is meant to show how we are deeply connected to nature. The body is a tree, the legs being the roots and arms the branches, representing plants. The mouth is a worm, and the eyes are mountains representing animals and the landscape respectively. The head is made up of two arrows to show the constant cycle of energy being created and destroyed within Nature.
I enter and feel at home,
From the sights and sound,
I know I am not alone,
Feet digging in the ground,
Arms reaching for the sky,
Deep within, builds a natural high.
Floating down onto my back,
Reabsorbing all that I lack,
Sinking deeper and deeper in,
I happily return to my once forgotten kin.
The above painting is my representation of Nature. I wanted to show how we ourselves are a part of nature by having the human in the center morph in the four common elements that nature is composed of. One arm transforms into a tree to represent the element of earth. While his other arm transforms to both wind and clouds which eventually produce water. The last element, fire, is produced from his hair. One of his legs is firmly rooted into the ground to portray how at the core, we are all rooted in and come from nature. While his other morphs into a snake to represent the part that animals play in nature (yes, he is digesting a meal … no, it definitely was not an accident with my brush that I covered up by coming up with the idea afterward).
Questions and Answers
Why is this a value you want to instill in your life?
Nature is where we come from and where we feel the most alive. The study mentioned above as well as numerous others support how being in nature improves mental and physical health. I believe that having Nature as an ideal is an important part of gaining an understanding of how small we each are in the grand scheme of the Universe. Realizing the vastness of Nature in comparison to our own world helps both keep our ego in check and reframe situations that seem extremely important in the moment but upon reflection are just the opposite.
What activities bring out this value?
The most obvious activity is simply spending time in nature. This can be something as simple as taking a walk on a trail or something more immersive like going on a week-long hike up a mountain. Other activities include bringing more nature to you by getting plants to have inside your home or starting a garden in your backyard. Of course, not everyone has access to a backyard, but most can fit a baby succulent in their living space and even that can greatly affect our day in a positive way.
How would the world be different if more people identified more with this ideal?
We are slowly moving farther and farther away from nature as a species. Since 1960, the population of the world living in urban areas has steadily been increasing while the amount living in rural areas has largely been tapering off since 2000. The graph can be seen here. If the world population of humans started recultivating its relationship with nature, I believe that not only would our overall physical and mental health improve, but people would become kinder and more selfless.
What image comes to mind when visualizing this ideal?
I revisit many visualizations I created while reading the book “The Hidden Life of Trees” whenever I meditate on nature. Forests are composed of enormous trees, each with its own miniature ecosystems within themselves come to mind. I also visualize time sped up within these areas and how each organism, no matter how small, plays an important part in the cycle of life and death.
How can people who want to do this first take steps to include it in their daily routine more?
I understand that not everyone has easy access to dense forests or mountains to escape to but there are many small things that can still be done to deepen one’s connection with nature. One example is nature sound meditation sessions. Going into a meditative state and becoming immersed in the sounds of nature has been proven to change our body systems and help us relax. Another easy way to start cultivating that connection with nature is to watch nature documentaries. This will broaden the knowledge one has of all the different types of life that exist and grow the awareness one has of the world. This allows for a much greater appreciation for nature in general and will deepen the experience of being in nature in the future.
If you have any other questions you think would aid in the understanding and development of future ideals, please leave a comment below!
The following playlist is the beginning of my collection of songs that I believe embody Nature:
If you have any other songs you think would fit in the playlist, please leave a comment down below letting me know!
Next Value: Modesty
The second to last value I will be embodying will be Modesty. I will be focusing on the part of Modesty that relates to being humble. I think having humility is one of the most important qualities and something I immediately notice when meeting new people. I am very invested in being aware of and working to lessen the grip that ego has over me. I believe emboyding Modesty is a great step in the right direction to work on this.
Make Today Your Best Day Yet!
“Life is a series of fresh starts, the frequency of use is up to the individual”~Zak Keller aka amusingmonk~