Freelance writer Sally Perkins
A Daily Dose of Nature Enhances Your Spirituality
“In medieval times, if someone displayed the symptoms we now identify as boredom, that person was thought to be committing something called acedia, a ‘dangerous form of spiritual alienation’ — a devaluing of the world and its creator.”
― Richard Louv
Nature is a Necessity, not a Luxury
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, hits the nail on the head when he says that human beings are increasingly suffering from a phenomenon called ‘Nature deficit disorder’. We have lost our vital bond with Nature and the result is everything from boredom to a lost love for the Earth and a negation of our spiritual side. Time spent in nature, he notes, is not leisure if not a necessity: a way to heal, to enhance our concentration, to decrease (stress hormone) cortisol levels, feel happier and more entertained, to practice mindfulness and enjoy unstructured physical activity, even to save our Planet. What good are dire warnings about the future of our Planet if we never spend enough time in it to love it and fight for it instinctively?
Spirituality is Happiness
To the extent to which nature enhances our spirituality, it is essential to happiness. Research by Dr. Harold G. Koenig backs this claim – his findings indicate that people who are more spiritual enjoy better mental health throughout their lifetime. Spirituality can essentially be defined as “prioritizing people and their feelings above material or physical things.” For many people this mean following a particular faith that stipulates tenets of morality and making sacrifices for others. Koenig notes that when we are able to embrace the fundamental elements of our belief with faith (rather than proof), we can adapt to life’s vicissitudes more efficiently and even respond better to treatments when we are ill.
Strengthening Link between Spirituality and Nature
Studies have shown that many children barely manage to spend an hour in the great outdoors every day – and that they do set aside various hours to spend on their iPads, smartphone or computers. Yet we not only appreciate the beauty of nature, but also make greater sense of it, when we physically experience its natural elements – jumping in puddles, observing the fauna, opening our senses to the sights, sounds and smells of a natural area. Time spent in nature takes us beyond the material, and natural brings us to a mindful state in which ‘the here and now’ takes precedence over the causes of worry and negative thoughts.
To enhance our spirituality, it is necessary to tune into the natural world. E.O. Wilson coined the term ‘biophilia’ after studying for years and observing that human beings have a natural tendency to seek out experiences in nature – thus, we enjoy contemplating trees and flowers, not only because of their innate beauty, but also because they reminds us of continued growth and fruitfulness. In order to continue to grow and find wonder in the world, we must take care to foster our spirituality, keeping it strong by finding inspiration from the vast, glorious natural world.