When was the last time I laid down on the ground and gazed into the sky?
That was the question hovering in my mind as I was lying down on the grass next to my friend staring into the clouds, feeling relaxed and peaceful.
We had just taken a psychedelic substance and trekked to a small hill where we were waiting expectantly for the effects to kick in.
We had heard that nature is one of the best settings to “trip” since colours would become more lively and vivid. So we decided to trek up the hill which was just walking distance from where we were staying.
The weather was a little chilly that day. Cool winds were blowing and rain drizzling as we waited in eager anticipation.
A pic from that day (that’s me on the left)
We knew that the effects would take about an hour or so to take hold. So we kept waiting and waiting, an hour passed and then two. But nothing was happening. And for whatever reason, much to our disappointment the effects never came.
This incident happened a few years ago while I was back in college and living in Pune.
However, one thing that stayed with me from the episode was the thought as to why I didn’t spend more time in nature before and why I needed a reason or an excuse to admire the beauty and tranquility of nature.
Ever since then, I’ve developed a keener interest in spending time more time in nature. And I’ve noticed that the feeling I often get while I am in nature is a feeling of peace and contentment, a feeling that nothing is lacking.
And it is about the magical effects that nature can have on our mind and body that I’d like to talk with you in this blog post.
How nature impacts us
Writers and poets through the ages have sung praises about nature. But perhaps, even they may not have known the extent to which nature can positively impact our mind, body and spirit as recent studies reveal.
Being in nature increases the production of serotonin in our body, the neurotransmitter which contributes to our feelings of happiness. Spending time in nature also reduces fear and stress and improves our physical wellbeing by reducing heart rate and blood pressure.
In a study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery, half had a view of nature and half had a view of a wall. Amazingly, the half with a view of nature tolerated pain better, slept better, reported less stress, and spent less time in a hospital.
Spending quality time in nature can have a wide range of positive benefits such as,
Better cognitive function
Increased ability to focus
Boosts the immune system
Improved creativity and problem solving skills
Lower blood pressure
Restoring attention capacity and mental fatigue
Accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
Increased energy levels
Lower anxiety and feelings of depression
Lower feelings of anger and fear
Even if you are unable to go out in nature every day, there are a couple of simple things you can do to experience its benefits in your daily life.
Many studies show that when you are having a stressful day looking outside at trees or even simply viewing images of nature can quickly produce a calming effect. Within three to four minutes after viewing nature scenes, blood pressure, and the production of stress hormones decrease.
Even something as simple as having a plant in your room or desk can boost your productivity and creativity by 15%.
For most of our human history we’ve lived in close contact with nature.
However, over the past few centuries, it seems that the more we are more progressing technologically as a species, the more our relationship with our natural environment is deteriorating.
Seeing people with their heads buried in their phone while they are outside is a much more common sight these days than seeing people observing their surroundings and environment keenly.
However, there’s a lot that’s happening in our environment if we only stop to pause and look around. Whether it’s paying attention to the birds flying, the clouds moving, the sun setting or the trees swaying.
Being immersed in nature can truly be a meditative experience, involving all our senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste.
At its best, it can serve as a portal to transport us into another world where we can lose our sense of self, time and worries and fill us with feelings of awe and delight.
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