AS MESSAGES CELEBRATING EARTH WEEK have been circulating the media, I found myself wondering how I would like to honour this Earth education event here on Pure Green. This comes during an intense time for me personally, the house is in disarray as I prepare for the arrival of my second little one in just 4 (ish) short weeks. The feeling of anticipation and unorganization has left me feeling a little uncentered and I've been searching for ways to find time to refocus my energies so that I feel ready, because at this point, our little one could arrive at any time.
This is coupled with the arrival of spring (at LONG last). Depending on where you live you likely have been enjoying a shift in weather for weeks now, but here at my home the snow has slowly, slowly, been seeping into the ground, finally the wind has shifted and the expansive energy of warmer air and light has been lifting my spirits. Spring is such a time of rebirth—it feels apropo to welcome new life at this time as new life is springing up all around us. I'm trying to learn a way of being from the Earth, to allow the lessons of the darker, more introspective winter months simply seep into me, accepting them, allowing them to become part of me, change me, but then disappear, just like the snow. They nourish me, watering seeds of change, and now it's time to move on.
Bringing myself back to Earth week, I realize that my mission with Pure Green is to appreciate the planet each and every day. There are enough top ten lists of green habits out there, I'm hoping to encourage you to seek out nature and truly appreciate what we're working to preserve. Nature is a meditation if you take the time to really notice it, to be in it. I realize that if you live in an urban environment it's not always easy to feel connected to nature, but there is always a way. In Japan there is a concept known as Forest Bathing, in which spending time amongst trees helps to counterbalance the effects of stress and an overproductive life. It seems that even gazing at a photo of trees or water helps reduce stress. This is not at all surprising to me to learn that nature can help calm us and bring us back to ourselves—as evolutionary humans, this is our natural habititat—it is coming home.
Here is an excercise for you to ponder, borrowing from both the concept of Forest Bathing as well as Grouding (a practice of connecting your energy to that of the Earth to rebalance and heal yourself by simply walking barefoot, or touching the ground or a tree with some part of your exposed body such as your hands). It's meant to calm you, to diffuse stress, to heal, but also to foster gratitude for nature. This gratitude, in my mind, is the way forward. It is the motivator for us all to save this planet.
At your next opportunity, when you feel open to it and the weather feels nice, find a spot that inspires you and where you feel comfortable, be it in the forest, your garden, or the park. Sit with bare feet or your hands touching the ground, and gently close your eyes, breathing deeply, slowly in and out. As you sit, allow your senses to take in sounds around you, focusing if you can on sounds of nature: birds and insects, squirrels scuffling, leaves dropping, etc. The diversity of sound might surprise you (do your best to filter out urban sounds even though it can be hard—you will get better at it). As you feel your senses sharpen and your body relaxing, imagine you can feel a pulse emanating from the ground that envelopes you in calm and wellbeing (it's not your imagination, there is indeed a life force that flows through every living thing). Focus on expanding that sensation with every breath, continuing for a few minutes at least. When you're ready, gently wiggle your fingers and toes to bring yourself back, and slowly open your eyes, taking in your natural surroundings and seeing the true beauty of it. Sit quiety for a minute longer, simply appreciating.