Researchers have consistently studied the effects of nature on our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Despite the proven benefits nature provides us, many of us ignore the importance of nature as we go through our lives.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay Nature, “The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” We are connected to nature in a way that’s impossible to deny, and spending time outside has multiple benefits that are we can’t ignore.
We’ll look at some of the proven benefits of experiencing nature, as well as how it affects us on a spiritual level. If you’ve spent years looking for a transcendent experience and have come up empty, you may have been looking in the wrong places.
The Healing Properties of Nature
The importance of nature isn’t relegated to something that’s friendly to the eye. Marveling at the sunset is fantastic, but nature has many more offerings when it comes to our bodies and minds.
Experiencing nature has a healing effect. Even the least spiritually-minded individual can’t deny science that proves the importance of nature in our daily lives.
Reducing Stress and Depression
Depression and stress are all too common in today’s society. Life becomes monotonous or hectic, and we lose sight of the beauty that lies only a few feet away from us at all times.
We sit at our desks, typing and talking the day away. We sometimes go months without seeing or experiencing the great outdoors – especially those of us who live in colder climates.
After a while, stress and depression set in. We then go to the doctor to get a prescription to fix the “chemical imbalance” in our brain – a term that has no scientific backing whatsoever.
What does have scientific backing, however, is the idea that taking a walk in nature can reduce activity in areas of the brain associated with stress and depression. One study showed that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area expressed significantly fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression than those who didn’t.
In the Western world, we spend most of our days sitting in front of a screen. We stare at a screen all day at work, waiting for the clock to hit 5:00 so we can go home and look at another screen until we fall asleep.
The internet has killed our attention spans. If something doesn’t immediately grab our attention, we’re on to the next piece of content.
You may find yourself clicking on a dozen YouTube videos without watching a single one. Surfing the web aimlessly is common, and it’s not healthy for our personal or professional lives.
Companies and content creators know this, too. They create advertisements and shows that take advantage of our fading attention span.
One of the ways to get our focus and attention back is to spend some time in nature. In nature, there’s nothing to distract you from what you’re doing.
Spending time in nature without any distractions will show you how distracted we’ve become as a society. After repeated trips, you’ll start to notice that you have a stronger ability to focus on tasks. If you’ve already noticed your attention span failing, the results will be even more noticeable.
Becoming More Generous
Generosity is one of the greatest indicators of spiritual well-being, and there’s no way to boost your generosity like spending time in nature.
The University of California, Berkeley published a study in 2014 about the importance of nature in generosity. The researchers found that exposing subjects to the beauty of nature resulted in generosity and trust. The group who didn’t see the beautiful scenery showed fewer signs of generous actions.
Nature is inherently giving, and we can feel that through our subconscious. As a result, we’re more generous and trusting when we come back from a beautiful nature trip.
Experiencing the Universal Connection
Allow us to revert to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature for a moment. In the essay, he offers one of the best descriptions we can find of the universal connectivity of nature:
“Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”
It’s hard to put this type of transcendent experience into words, but Emerson does one of the best jobs we’ve seen. His isolated meditations in nature brought him to the realization that God wasn’t some man sitting in the sky – He is among us at all times in the form of nature.
In his meditations, Emerson was able to reach a state of complete, uninterrupted focus. He was nothing but a transparent eyeball – a portal of pure experience, rather than a mind cluttered with thoughts and ideas of the material world.
This kind of breakthrough is not only introspective and life-changing, but it’s also possible for everyone reading this article. You can’t find it in a book or on television – you can only find it outside your door.
The Importance of Nature for the Spirit
Nature’s role in spiritual development is unmistakable. If you want to become closer to God, all you have to do is sit in a beautiful, natural setting and meditate. Your mind will clear, and you’ll start to understand what Emerson was talking about in some of the above quotes.
If you don’t buy into concepts like spiritual wellbeing, that’s perfectly fine. Instead, focus on the physical and mental benefits nature give us. We’ve linked to multiple studies that prove the mental and physical effects nature has on our bodies so you can do some looking for yourself.
Nature’s inherent ability to heal is available to all of us. All you have to do is go for a hike to start to feel the effects.
If you’re interested in more tips and stories on your path to self-empowerment, take a look at the Avatar® Course on our website!