Finding Peace in Nature
Whenever I’m experiencing a high level of stress, I find that getting outside shifts my perspective and allows me to slow down and breathe deeper. The rhythm of the natural world is a drastic change from what most of us experience each day. It’s easy to get consumed by technology but taking a break outside away from all your devices can be a vital time to recharge your own batteries. In Maine, we’re fortunate to have so many wonderful places to make this environmental connection. Hanging out by the ocean, taking a walk through the woods or even just sitting in your own backyard can be a great option to relieve some of the burden on your shoulders. I live directly off of Washington Avenue in Portland, but even in my backyard, I’ve seen ducks land in the pool, woodpeckers in the trees and hawks circling overhead.
Getting out into nature allows us to remember that we don’t always need to live a fast-paced lifestyle. We need a balance of activity and rest in our bodies, but we also need this same balance in our minds. If your brain is working non-stop all day, moving from one screen to the next, then it’s hard to make the transition to slow it down to sleep at night. Taking that extra time outside can also allow us to be more present in our lives and further appreciate who we are.
For me personally, I love to be by the water. There is something special about sitting by the water. It doesn’t really matter what kind. It could be a lake, ocean, river, stream, man-made pond, fountain or a backyard pool, all of them have the same calming influence on my soul. Any thoughts that have been racing through my mind during the day slowly dissolve as the sounds of the water integrate into my being. I was privileged to have access to a lot of different types of water growing up. With lakes, rivers and oceans within driving distance of my small home town, we were exposed to the wonders of this natural world at a young age. As I write this, I’m sitting next to a beautiful spring-fed lake in the western mountains torn between finding the words to describe the impact of the sparkling, rippled pond before me and actually just being with the water.
To help find further peace in the experience of being in nature, try this simple meditation technique the next time you’re by the water. Close your eyes, if that’s comfortable, and let the sounds of the water wash over you. Focus on your breath, both the inhale and the exhale, and let them become aligned with the rhythm of the water before you. For any thoughts that come up, let them go without any judgement slowing releasing any anxiety, tension, fear or anger you may be holding in your being. Over and over again, come back to the breath, letting the water smooth out any rough edges in your mind. Sit there for a while or only a couple minutes, then take some time to notice how you feel. In my experience, the impact is evident even if it’s just a few slow breaths before I go about the rest of my day.
In the music side of my coaching practice, I encourage people looking for inspiration and motivation to get outside and play. This might not always be possible given the instrument but taking the time to feel the rhythms of nature and to use them to inspire your playing can be of tremendous benefit. It helps to shake things up, especially when most of us spend so much time inside. Break down the walls around you and expand your vision of the world. This is a practice that’s helpful for anyone, not just musicians. Ignore the noise of society for a little while and listen to the birds sing, the trees rustle in the breeze and the distant sounds you can’t yet identify. Being outside won’t change any of your responsibilities, but it can change your perspective on those responsibilities and allow you to enjoy life a little more.
Jeff Arbor is a musician, mindfulness coach and Reiki practitioner based out of Portland who is focused on helping people slow down, breathe deeper and connect more with who they are. He enjoys working with fellow musicians and creative artists but holds a special place in his heart for people that want to bring a sense of calm to their lives in what can be a stressful world that we live in through coaching, speaking and mindfulness workshops. Jeff’s Reiki practice is at 200 High Street, Suite 3B in Portland, but he also is mobile, so he can meet you at your home or office to perform the session. For more information about Jeff, visit: www.jeffarbor.com