Suzanne Marlatt Stewart
Like so many other people in SaddleBrooke, I moved here from a totally different environment. I lived in the Northwest all my life and loved the lush, green foliage and being close to the water—either a lake, the Puget Sound, or the ocean. I constantly complained about the Arizona weather—too hot, windy, the foliage, and even the wildlife. It took me a couple of years to make peace with the environment. I realized that this area has its own unique beauty. I needed to make a shift and find my connection to nature here. I came across this quote that reminded me to expand my thinking. “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”—Vincent Van Gogh
Kris Abrams is a nature-based psychotherapist. She suggests the following ways to connect with nature.
1. Make a commitment to connect with nature
You need to listen and communicate, and if you were raised in the Western world, that probably doesn’t come naturally. The first step to developing your spiritual relationship with nature is committing to doing so.
2. Create time alone in nature
When we’re with other people, we tend to talk to each other. Silences are experienced as uncomfortable. It’s not as hard as you might think to create solitary experiences in nature. You can even spend time in your own yard. (My husband and I enjoy watching the birds and sitting in silence).
3. Find a good place
This doesn’t need to be a complicated process, and you don’t need the “perfect” place because all of nature is perfect.
4. Sit down
Can you have spiritual experiences while walking, or running, or climbing? Of course. But I’ve found it’s easier to connect spiritually while my mind and my body are quiet and focused.
5. Relax and Observe
Take in your surroundings. Notice little details and the larger lay of the land. See, hear, smell, and feel, and allow yourself to enjoy it. Then, try asking yourself, “What am I drawn to?” Is it a mountain? A creek? A flower? A tree? Allow your eyes to rest there and focus your mind on it.
This is where it gets exciting. It’s also where your mind may rebel. If you were raised in Western culture, chances are you’ve been taught that, while humans may have souls or spirits, many (or all) other animals do not. And certainly, we can’t communicate with these animals or natural elements. You decide if you are yearning enough to throw off this conditioning, even just for a moment, to try something new.
The monsoon storm on Sept. 5 reminded me of the power of Mother Nature. I am very thankful to live here compared to what people are experiencing in other parts of the world.
Rev. Suzanne is an independent writer and speaker living in SaddleBrooke. Her focus is inclusive. She was ordained non-denominational in 1988, representing all faiths. She can be contacted at [email protected]