|Photo: Solveig Larsen
Here are just a few of the “buildings” that nature already provides me:
Nature is my gym. Nature provides ample locations and opportunities for exercise. I can run or walk on trails and tracks through bush and forest, or along a beach or beside a lake. I can swim in lakes, sea or rivers. My soundtrack is freely provided – birdsong, surf crashing and rolling, rustling leaves, or waves gently lapping on lakeshores. For strength work I need only use a rock or boulder, or a low-hanging branch for chin-ups.
Nature is my school. Nature teaches us the complexity and inter-connectivity of life far better than we will ever learn sitting in a classroom. Sitting in a natural setting I learn the cycles of life and the contentment and acceptance that can bring. Nature teaches patience and observation skills. If I watch carefully I can see how nature does not compete, but rather cooperates, sometimes in very subtle ways. Each plant, insect, bird, amphibian, reptile, or mammal has a niche – a place where it fits.
Nature is my supermarket. All my daily nutritional requirements can be met from natural supermarket, so long as I am willing to eat seasonally. I must admit that, personally, I do not know much about the natural supermarket, and so I must seek out a guide – perhaps someone who knows about permaculture. Like most of us in the industrialised world, I have been brought up without any real knowledge of how nature can be my supermarket. I know it can though.
Nature is my psychologist’s office. Nature soothes and heals us. We have known for millennia that nature helps to lessen states of anxiety and depression. Over recent decades there have been numerous studies showing the healing power of nature: lowering blood pressure, relieving stress, increasing calmness, improving immunity. A few minutes contemplative exposure to nature can have significant bearing upon our emotional and psychological states.
Nature is my church (or, if you prefer, mosque, synagogue, stupa, shrine, temple, ashram.) When in a bush or forest setting we can look upward towards the canopy and feel a pull towards our spiritual side. We can look down, and dig down into roots and mycelium, towards our soul. The dappled light of sunlight filtering through green leaves or moonlight reflected off water rival any stained glass window. For millennia upon millennia (long before most of the world’s current religions were established) humans have been finding nature to be a spiritual guide. We named some parts within nature as sacred: sacred groves, springs, tors. The Druids, for example, recognised the divinity within trees. Nature can be a monastery, as it is for the Thai Buddhist Forest Monks.
Nature is these and many more. Nature can also be my art gallery, my museum, my zoo, my aquarium, my doctor’s surgery, my restaurant.
Nature can be, and is, all these things.