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Slow Down and Connect with Nature (Spiritual Tool #8)

We live on a blue planet that rotates at a whopping 67,000 miles per hour around a giant ball of fire 93 million miles away. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has a dark enough sky, you can see stars that are at least 25,300,000,000,000 miles away. (Don’t ask me how to say that number!) Scientists tell us that 97% of our bodies is literally made up of stardust. Joni Mitchell was right. We are golden! It’s not just some young hippie wide-eyed dream. The world is amazingly awesome!

We can believe as Einstein did that either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle. It’s always our choice. But more often than not, it’s nature that reminds us of the miraculous world we live in. Take for example Northern lights dancing across the sky, or a harvest full moon rising up over a hill, or a quiet kayak ride on a peaceful lake.

Why is it that we feel so relaxed when we give ourselves permission to slow down and connect? Is it because we’ve left the static, noise, and clutter of our daily lives behind, even if it’s just for a moment?

But slowing down in a culture designed to keep us distracted and constantly busy can be challenging. It’s so easy to forget our shopping list for dinner much less remember that life is a miracle. In a way though, slowing down is the ultimate act of resistance in a culture determined that we must keep busy, at all costs, all the time! Therefore, if you find yourself slowing down, know you’re on the right track. Try taking it one step further by slowing down and connecting to nature. If you can, I guarantee you will be reminded of the miraculous world we live in.

Plus, when you take time for nature, it takes care of you. Literally! Did you know that almost every other breath we take is dependent on the oxygen that trees release? Simply put, we breathe in the breath of the trees. Can you guess the other major source of our ability to breathe? If you guessed oceans and lakes, you’re right. More specifically, it’s the microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton that are the source of at least the other half of our oxygen. With a history that goes back more than three billion years, phytoplankton is the basis for all life formed on earth. Through the process of photosynthesis, both trees and marine plants absorb sunlight and then release the oxygen that ultimately makes its way into our lungs. Likewise, the carbon dioxide we exhale is food for the trees and phytoplankton. We cannot breathe without healthy oceans, lakes, and trees. In balance, this rhythm between these very different species sustains life. And that’s the key: balance.

Nature reminds us that we are intimately connected to all of life. We are not above it or separate from it. We are nature. When we connect to its beauty on the “outside”, we automatically connect to the beauty within us. A good reminder is the intimate relationship we have with trees, lakes, and oceans. By slowing down and connecting with nature, we honor the sanctity of life itself. That’s why it’s one of the main tools in my spiritual toolbox. Like many of my other tools, it reminds me of my deep connection to a greater whole and that at my core I am infinite.

When was the last time you slowed down and connected with nature? When we actually give ourselves permission to pause and breathe in nature’s beauty, everything else falls away. We automatically drop into the present moment, the most powerful place to be.

Here’s a simple way to do this: A few times throughout your day or week, whenever you see a tree, take a moment to acknowledge and breathe in its gift of breath to you. See if you can breathe the tree’s energy deep down into every cell of your being, all the way down to your feet. Feel (or just imagine) the energy being absorbed by your cells. As you exhale, breathe out gratitude.

This summer you’ll find me simply sitting or lying down on my lawn, listening to the breeze through the trees, the hum of the crickets, and the songs of the birds. This is by far some of the best rejuvenating and balancing energy I can receive . . . right in my own backyard! For that I am grateful!

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