I have known for a long time how important it is for me to connect with nature. Hugging trees, sticking my nose in flowers and grass, hearing the birds singing and seeing the moorhen swimming and roam about on the waterfront. Call it hippy-dippy or spiritual (especially that tree-hugging 😄), but it helps me.
Especially when I am stressed or sad, I experience a rushed feeling in my body and my head is full with all kind of judgements or has something negative to say, usually about myself. Brainfarts, monkey mind, dragons in your head. Give it a name that suits you and you will be surprised how much easier it will become to recognize this imbalance or disconnection in yourself. It is also confronting, haha! But yes, no growth without a little discomfort, as we all know. And becoming aware and connecting to it are the first steps towards growth and transformation.
As a child I grew up in a small village where you could find lots of greenery. The farmer next to our house used to call me out of bed when the lambs were born. The woolly scent of young lambs on a farm can still make me intensely happy.
I built huts, climbed trees and my imagination could go wild in nature. In the summer we swam in the open water and dived for mussels and stroll every weekend on islands where we sailed towards with the family boat. And during the summer vacation, we always went to a campsite somewhere in the Netherlands for a few weeks. Surfing, sailing, water, greenery, and animals of all kinds. I liked that the most and I could spend hours wandering around, making things from twigs and leaves and losing myself in time and space, so close to the elements. Things like mobile phones, tablets, game boys and social media were not a big part of daily life in my youth.
I have never lost that need for nature around me, although the contact with it became increasingly diluted. Because I grew up, went to study and work and was busy with other "much more important" things. The incentives of being online and always available these days do not make it easier to find and connect to stillness.
Now that I am in a more in-depth phase of my life and have been living in the big city of Rotterdam for more than 10 years, (with great pleasure for a long time by the way), I have recently noticed that this urban and 24/7 online life seem to be more over-stimulating for me than say a vew years ago and that I increasingly feel that old need to connect with nature and to lose myself in the stories it has to tell. I need it to slow down, away from all this stimulation and to be amazed and in awe again. That helps me to feel more connected with a pure source of energy and to be able to put things in perspective. Because yes, when I walk with all those dragons of monkeys in my head again and feel the stress and anxiety it brings me, I stand still and take a moment too really see and feel a big old tree standing calmly in all kinds of weather. Sun or rain, it won't hurt him, he just enjoys being a tree and follows the rhythm of the seasons. That helps me calm down and put things into perspective. All those stories in my head come to a halt and I see the bigger picture again and I smile kindly at myself and my drama queenery at things that are actually not that important at all.
Since a few months, I have been going for a walk every day. Preferably directly in the morning, but if that fails then I always try to find a moment for a short walk. Even if it is only 20 minutes. I walk the same path almost every day. "Too boring," I hear you think, but it certainly isn't. Because every time I walk the same path that I know, I see new things. I see a flower that was slightly further open than the day before. And the cat that lives on my walk comes to greet me now that she knows me a little better. I notice new growth along the side of the road. I smell the scent of a rose that gives off its sweet aroma when it is warm enough and I feel the wet or dry warm ground underneath my bare feet. Because yes, I prefer to walk barefoot to really feel that connection.
My feet are the perfect tools for me to pull me out of my head, back to the basis of my feelings and heart-connection, wonderful!
And even though I live in a big city (luckily close to a park), there is something beautiful and natural to be found everywhere. From that one big tree at the end of the street, to the tiny facade garden of the neighbors 3 houses away. Seeing, smelling and feeling a little bit of green helps me to make the connection and experience peace and space again.
I have just returned from a wonderful week of camping in Dalfsen in Overijssel Holland, where I had the opportunity to experience the Living Village festival. I was able to be completely in the present and in connection with myself so much, that I spent almost 7 days offline. What a wonderful experience! Really live in the moment and connect with people and nature. Because my cell phone almost didn't come out of my bag, I didn't take any pictures. Taking photos with my mobile phone often takes me out of the moment because the temptation to check Facebook or my email is very much alive when I have my phone in hand, which means that I miss the moment I enjoy so much. So no nice memory photos of Dalfsen, but a very happy and charged Kirsten😊 And because I was able to absorb everything, the beautiful pictures are automatically stored in my memory. The photos that are shown with this piece were taken on a number of my daily walks here in Rotterdam.
I hope this story makes you happy and that you feel inspired to dive into nature more often. At least it helps me enormously to be able to make that connection with myself by connecting with nature. Let go of all those thoughts in your head and just enjoy. A deep sense of connection, peace, and tranquility, space, creative energy & experiencing new insights or solutions are the gifts that nature can give you if you regularly pay attention to it. Enjoy!