In celebration of Earth Month, we caught up with Hawaii-based meditation instructor Monika who shares 5 of her favorite ways to get in touch with nature.
Envision yourself walking on a beach. The sand is white and powdery soft, the waves caress your feet, and the gentle ocean sounds soothe your ongoing thoughts. You place your hand on your heart and tune into your heartbeat’s melody. You feel your rhythmic beat as the breath becomes calmer, your pace slows down, your sense of time fades, and then you smile out to the horizon. You inhale deeply and exhale with bliss. Your body radiates joy in the present moment. Nature has spoken.
“The earth is beautiful. If you start living its beauty, enjoying its joys with no guilt in your heart, you are in paradise.” – Osho
We all have a personal connection with different elements of earth whether it’s spending time in the ocean, mountains, lakes, valleys, or gardens that give us time to disconnect from the virtual world. While growing up, my parents would take my brother and I to the beaches in Michigan. We spent hours building sandcastles, digging an endless hole, and finding cool stones in the water. Being by the water made me happy and always gave me a sense of freedom.
However, I longed for the beach when staying indoors during the cold winters in Chicago. I knew I needed to make a change, so right before my 21st birthday I moved to Hawai’i in hopes to fulfill my desire of living by the ocean.
Over the three years of living in Hawai’i, nature revealed new passions and fears as well as showing me my true friends. Spending time outside opened my mind to simple living and comforted me in times of stress. From hiking to swimming in the ocean and waterfalls, my body was learning to let go.
Our bodies get cluttered from pollution, negative thinking, and society’s expectations, whereas nature gives us a chance to be our true selves with it. What better friend than one that accepts our authenticity? I share my thoughts and few of my favorite ways to connect with nature:
1| Soak in the Ocean
Sitting on my surfboard, flowing with the swell’s gentle movement, and being away from the city’s noise is my happy place. The first contact with the water sends electrolytes to my cells starting from the toes up to my forehead. I feel much lighter and happier. Silence comes forth when I submerge; a total let go of my current thoughts and emotions. As I paddle looking out the horizon I feel at home connected with the ocean. I sit on the surfboard while recharging my body and mind.
Having a strong connection to any body of water always symbolizes a rebirth. The body recharges instantly after all we are made up of over 70% of water. When you are by the ocean, remind yourself, “All is well.” The ocean’s swell is constantly changing just like our emotions, but the waves have a controlled balance. The ocean teaches to find harmony in the current. Go with the flow of life; ride the wave.
2| Hike More
The moment I set foot into a forest, it feels like I got a face-lift. The aroma from the pine trees, water streams, and flowers get me grounded. My worries fade as the new sights fill my heart with joy. I see beauty all around as nature is a reflection of my inner beauty. I value my uniqueness, I affirm to myself.
We live in a world with more virtual connections than real. We fail to notice the blossoming flowers, the passing colors of the morning sky, or the birds singing outside our windows. To disconnect from your phone go on a hike – preferably a place with bad cell phone reception.
Observe the interactions of animals, the way the tree branches dance with the wind, the way the light flirts through the trees, because these are unique sights that will fill your heart and get buried in your mind. You begin noticing things once overlooked. You realize you are living the present moment when reciting things you’ve seen rather than memes you’ve read on social media.
3| Watch the Sunrise
I woke up at 5:08am, gathered my things, and drove in the night’s sky. Within 20 minutes the sky was beginning to wake up as we saw Maui, another island, in the distance. Upon arrival to the pier the sounds of the shoreline instantly calmed me. I felt a unique presence of peace within.
On our days off from work it is normal to want to sleep in. I think a more rewarding feeling is watching the sunrise. From any vantage point, if you live in the city or near mountains, watching the sunrise is peaceful. You are witnessing the world wake up as the buildings, ridges, or ocean start getting their first glow. You get to experience it first-hand, because you woke up slightly earlier.
Take in the scenery by doing a couple rounds of conscious breaths. Tell yourself, “I am here; I am enough.” The rest of your day will be more enlightening, trust me.
4| Hammocks and Chill
My body synchronizes to the swaying of the branches above me. I feel relaxed being in good company.
If you’ve ever napped in a hammock then there is no need for me to say anything else. If you haven’t yet experienced this then it’s time to invest in one. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the wood element is associated to the liver organ. Your liver becomes activated and detoxes when you are near trees. The healing energy of nature sounds and fragrances are the reasoning behind your increased senses and decreased negativity. So instead of watching Netflix, go chill in a hammock with friends.
5| Star Gaze
The cool, night’s breeze tickles my skin as I smile to the sky. A gentle thought arises that I am like that one star I see. The star never changes representing that I am consistently myself. I am the star that lights up the sky.
When you take out the trash at night, do you look up at the stars or hurry back to the house? Admire the stars on your roof, backyard, or drive to an open field. As you lay on the ground, notice how your thoughts begin to silence from the sight of infinite stars. With a clear mind, your intuition speaks up by channeling new inspirations to set and achieve goals. The body then lets go tension and stress that aids in a more rested sleep. Take time to enjoy stargazing since it can be an easy form of mediation.
“The mountains are calling, I must go.” – John Muir
Nature is a place to be your True Self where you don’t have to be scrolling through negative newsfeeds or getting upset from what is happening in the news. The choice is yours with how much time you want to spend outdoors. Your life is impacted from what is in front of you, so go outside to start living yours.
I promise that you will find more clarity and balance in life when you connect with nature.
Photos by Marina Chayka