Healing Qualities of Nature
Meditation is an age old practice that has many health benefits. The practice reduces stress of daily life and guides people to a deeper connection with the earth. The purpose of meditation is to attain stillness of the mind, which is most easily reached in natural settings. This is why it is most common to find monasteries and meditation centers in natural areas. Whereas non natural settings can be distracting and reminiscent of stressful situations, being in nature gives a person the opportunity to concentrate on presence and connectivity with other living things.
Spending time in natural settings have been proven to reduce stress. Scientists have found that regular time in nature can improve sleeping ability, liveliness, and reduce psychological stress. Studies have also shown that even if a person is not directly in nature, being exposed to a houseplant or fish tank can improve daily life as well.
From GongLab founder Shu Shubat: "When we leave these tensions for awhile and spend some time connecting to the deep stillness of the natural world, our true inner nature has a chance to recalibrate itself and attune once again to the wellspring from which it evolved. Our bodies, minds, and spirits are reset and recharged with the fresh vitality of Nature."
Chicago has many outlets for connecting with the outdoors, most notably our 580 parks! Although it can be daunting to plan an outdoor excursion during the winter months, there are still ways expose yourself to nature. Join the Chicago Parks Foundation and Shu Shubat on January 23rd at our EarthGong Bath “Dream In” at the South Shore Cultural Center, check out the greenhouses of Garfield Park Conservatory, and join the Chicago Park District in their Polar Adventure Days at Northerly Island.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
- John O'Donohue, excerpted from "Blessings For One Who Is Exhausted"