Nature can be your secret remedy, your manna, your instant restoration, soothing your frazzled mind and opening new doors to creativity, says Neha Gupta
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
I have often wondered at the singularity vs duality of nature and myself. How are we both connected/one or how are we both apart/different? Very often, I simply draw my energy from nature—the soothing balm to my spirit, the spa for my weary body, the relaxant for my overworked mind. Mostly, I find her giving, even if I ask for nothing. She is like manna, filling my lap with her bounties—creative inspiration, better health, and an opportunity to connect with the spiritual, the metaphysical, and the beyond.
There are fleeting moments when I experience my oneness with her, where the boundaries are dissolved and there isn’t much difference between her and me. Standing under a tree in a rain shower, my arms outstretched, my face upturned to the skies, I’ve experienced this oneness. In the melting moment of a sunset, where the earth dissolves into experiencing the grand dance of the setting sun, the ochres, the pinks, the purples romancing her like a lover, I have felt the union.
For me, it is a force which gives me life. It is my secret remedy, my abundant, ubiquitous source, not dependent on size, scale, or volume. A tiny violet wild flower can give me as much pleasure as a clean sandy shore, kissed by a pristine ocean for miles.
Today, I let my secret out. People often ask me, "What keeps you smiling, what gives you the ability to find joy in small things, what bestows this childlike wonder in you?" For me, it’s very simple. Apart from my physical and emotional needs, and sometimes not even those, nature is my ‘go-to.’ It can be yours too. I have met and spoken with many people who have formed their own special bond with nature; for who, in their own way, nature is a critical factor in their lives.
Let me quote a few of these people.
Mrs. P. L. Gupta, educationist, ex-principal, and senior administrator of Children Education, recalls her first real brush with nature at the age of six:
“I used to go for a walk with my father to the railway tracks. The cold metal tracks would unexpectedly be a riot of orange and red! There would be flowers blooming in abundance next to them. I will never forget that sight. I was very fascinated by them; I wondered how they grew there. One day, I asked the person-in-charge of that small railway station, about the flowers. He said they grow on their own, year after year. He would only water them because he liked them and enjoyed their company during his lonely hours. My father told me the flowers were marigolds. That was my first taste of gardening, and there was no going back after that. Now when I look back, I realise that I have spent 50 years gardening!
"My plants are dearer to me than anything else. With my kids grown and flown away from the nest, my plants and flowers have become even more important to me. I plant them, tend to the tender little saplings and, in 60 days, they bloom! I feel so happy. I sit alone and enjoy those flowers; being with them is deeply relaxing. I feel more connected to nature, which is the supreme power. My mental health gets a big positive dose and many negative forces are taken away. Often, my flowers act as a psychological guide. They give me the energy to care for them even when I am tired. There is so much attachment to plants.”
She narrates another interesting incident of her flowers talking to her:
"Once, on a task, I hurried past my collection of flower pots in the sunlit balcony. Just as I was about to open the door and leave, a fragrance came creeping towards me, as if calling me. I turned back and with surprise, realized that three beautiful, pearly, white jasmine flowers, laden with the beautiful fragrance of their first blooming, were waiting to greet me! They literally called me to look at them. This is the magical bond between me and my flowers. If someone gardens with their own hands, plants will always respond to them, their touch”
Ahmed Karim, an evolved coach and facilitator, shares his experience:
“I visit nature as often as I can—in parks, along river or nullah banks, hillocks and the ‘no man’s lands’ in the city and on the outskirts. I feel nature has played a life-saving role in my life. There have been times when I have been in crisis and felt deeply hurt. Often, this was accompanied by a sense of betrayal by people and a need for nurturance, touch, and support. During these times, I felt nurtured, deeply touched, comforted, and held by nature. Being in nature helped me heal and restore the trust I needed to live amidst people. I think the phrase Mother Nature is not hyperbole. My relationship with nature helps in submitting and surrendering to life (or my soul), the accepting of what is and others, feeling the presence of the Divine, and experiencing so much beauty filling my heart that I cannot bear it.”
Not just this. There are studies, increasing exponentially, in various countries, that prove how nature impacts various parts of the brain in a positive manner. Here is an excerpt from the article Nature Nurtures Creativity, from News Centre, University of Utah:
Backpackers scored 50 per cent better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature, disconnected from electronic devices, according to a study by psychologists from the University of Utah and the University of Kansas. “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving, that hadn’t been formally demonstrated before,” says David Strayer, a co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Utah. “It provides a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature.”
So, the next time you draw up your new year resolutions, when you think about your health and wealth, of doing something for yourself, of ‘self-love’, adopt the latest buzzword—add a dash of nature to your plans, schedules, and prescriptions.
Think of finding a sweet spot in your day where for a moment or more, you deliberate on nature—maybe a plant, a tree, the sea, the skies, the sun, the moon— whatever your daily space permits. A few moments away from digital distractions, (including cell phones) and in touch with nature have a profound healing and rejuvenating impact, and in the long run, this benefit compounds.
Sometimes, think of choosing holidays away from the all-encompassing luxury of a modern resort and close to nature—an unspoilt mountainside or a not-so-popular beach, a tad rustic and a lot healthier!
Neha Gupta, Founder of Alchemy of Organization Development, is a consultant, writer, facilitator, and coach based out of Mumbai. She loves metaphors, travelling, and the sea. She holds that both the rational and irrational, the conscious as well as unconscious aspects of the self, have to be understood and celebrated for individuals and teams to work at their best. She is currently writing her first book.
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