Prescription: Nature

Prescription: Nature

The little things are the big things.  When you do little things well enough and consistently enough, they add up to the big things and make an exponential difference in your life. Communing with Nature is one of those little things, if done every day and consistently enough, can have huge impacts on your physical and psychological wellness.  We have all heard the age old story, “when I was a kid, I would stay outside all day until the lights came on, and that was my signal to go back home.”  These stories are as common as the air that we breathe; however, how many of our trips outside have been replaced with trips to the computer, or worse, simply lifting our cell phones to our faces when we feel a buzz or hear a warning sound?

Where Time Began

I have always been fascinated with history and how our forefathers lived and what they did.  I think, to a certain extent, we all are fascinated with how we go here.  We may not know 100% about how our ancestors lived, but one thing that we know for sure is that they spent more time outside than we did.  How much time?  That depends how far back in history you go.  Hunting and Gathering societies were dominant around 12.000 years ago, when we had the beginning of the Agricultural revolution and the beginning of permanent settlements to farm the land.  Hunters and Gathering groups spent the majority of their time outside, and even farmers spend a fair amount of time outside and perhaps even more connected to nature and the land then their ancestors.  Somewhere around 200 years ago, we had the Industrial Revolution and what we call modern times.  It’s safe to say that our brains are wired to be outside, since only until recently we have moved indoors and travel in artificial machines, propelling us around the planet at unimaginable speeds to our ancestors that walked all over the planet, making primitive fires to stay alive.  

Insidious Stress

If you are a fan of Star Wars, you will understand the meaning of what is by far the greatest villain to ever visit you in a galaxy far far away.  Darth Sidious was the quintessential Sith Lord, fooling even the most powerful Jedi Knights into believing that he was not evil even though he was, and whole time right under their noses!  Stress is like Darth Sidious in that it can be present even if you don’t now it is.  The foods that we eat, the unhealthy relationships that we foster (steeped in gossip and other unhealthy behaviors), the artificial lives that we lead, the noises that are exposed to, the toxins that are present in the air that we breath; all these stresses play a role in our health, or unhealthfulness.  So what do we do about it?  Nothing?  Enter Nature.

Nature as a Spiritual Remedy

Communing with nature may be our easiest way to combat the hidden stresses of our lives.  The definition of communing is simple, sharing oneself on an intimate and spiritual level.  This does not happen by accident or by simply stepping outside of your car or house.  Communing implies purposeful action on a spiritual level. Communing with nature predicates purposeful, mindful action, perhaps with some friends or perhaps by yourself, whichever works specifically for you.  When you commune with nature, your goal should be to become part of the system and actually feel yourself connected with the entire ecosystem that you find yourself in.  The keystone to communing is being eternally grateful and in awe of everything that is around you, while at the same time placing yourself as part of a force much greater than yourself.  Let yourself feel the awe, you may feel vulnerable, but that is OK.  If you are in the mountains, be still and feel the wind blowing through the trees.  Take it all in.  If you are near the ocean, place your feet in the ocean and tune yourself into all the living things that are now touching you, by virtue of the water rushing past you.  Allow yourself this basic communion, the rewards will be priceless and reduce your stress.


Dedicate some time every day to commune with nature, wherever you are.  Don’t simply go outside with a computer and call it communion.  Come from a place of gratitude and awe and allow yourself to feel.  Simply feel.  Think about how primitive humans were in touch with the environment around them and let yourself go there.  Remember that you are hard wired to feel this; you are here right now reading this because of that innate feeling.  When you get back inside, write down what and how you felt about the experience.  Share your feelings with others who are doing the same exercise.  After the week has gone by, write down what you learned from the experience of communion.  If you do this long enough, you won’t feel the same unless you have your daily communion with nature.  All it takes is going outside…

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N