Gratitude for nature’s healing

I’ve been feeling exhausted this past week. When I go for walks in the countryside, I realise I’m carrying a huge sadness. My mind starts casting about for what I’m sad about; it finds lots of current worries and losses it can pin it on. But when I drop beneath the mental noise, sit in a field awhile, tune in with the birds and the wind in the trees, and feel more closely into the sadness in my chest, I realise it’s collective grief. Universal grief. The world crying out in pain at all the destruction, loss and, most of all, disconnection, from each other and our environment. When my mind has a grip, even the trees feel remote as I walk through a wood. I lose that sense of oneness. I lose my smile.

It takes a conscious decision to come back to the present moment, and to keep bringing myself back to the present moment, over and over, as my overactive mind (I call it Busy Mind Syndrome) tries to dominate, churning up random past and future topics for me to obsess over. When I start to focus intently on all the different birds I can hear singing, or on the lichen on a tree’s trunk, or a bee tending to a wild flower, I feel a loosening of the emotions, a dissolving of the sadness. After a short while, all is well again.

And then gratitude floods back in. What a magical world we live in; how miraculous is nature in all her intricacies! My breathing becomes deeper, my chest starts to expand as my lungs fill. I feel my connection again – in an instant. Gratitude is the transcendent emotion of grief. It transmutes the heavy loneliness of grief into a lightness of being, the oneness with the universe that makes all things feel possible. There is hope again! Nothing heals my wounds or brings me back to the present moment like the natural world. Nature holds the key to our collective healing and transformation; we need only open our wounded hearts to her and express our gratitude.

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