7 Ways to Connect to Nature in 5 Minutes or Less

More and more it feels like there is not enough time.  In the last month, I found myself sitting with big life questions and craving deeply for a community to hold me.  Even more, I found that I was seeking to witness others in their lives: what questions might my friends be holding, what trials are they living, what stories could they share that might inspire and teach me.  I began to reach out. Then the scheduling game began, the ability to find a time for connecting seemed nearly impossible.  How have we come to not have time for each other?

In addition, as I see clients, I feel aware of this emerging difficulty with boredom.  Boredom has somehow come to be the thing we most avoid and can't bare to experience. It has come to be considered a problem.  This every moment has to be scheduled thing we do, appears to be a way to manage and avoid boredom.  But Why?   What are we so scared of in the experience of boredom?  Hasn't our extremely busy-ness made us long for some time to do nothing as this point.  Have we come to judge ourselves if we do "nothing".  When and how did boredom become an enemy instead of an opportunity?...an opportunity to connect!

Around this time, I came across an article by Krista Trippett titled the Disease of Being Busy .  She writes the same questions that arouse in my frustration, need for community and for slowing down to feel into who I am:
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids [and adults] get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we over-schedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?"

The problem with this is that this busy-ness creates a dynamic of feeling more and more alone and less and less connected to the world around us, but, what's wild is that we are all under some disguise that we more connected in our doing.

I have learned that in this world, creating time to connect with community and myself is a task of disproportional levels do to the busy-ness of our lives, it is the sneaking of connection to myself, my nature, my dear friend and the nature of the world around me in the brief moments between things, that I have come to cherish.  

Here are 7 ways to sneak in these brief moments of connection:

1. Look up: Our world can be so small when we are busy, the expression "nose to the grind stone" comes to mind, we focus our attention on tasks at hand, and often this requires looking down, at the ground so we don't trip in our fast pace, at the paper in hand or the computer/phone in front of us etc... I invite you to take 5 minutes or less to look up at the sky...day or night, gain perspective, notice the world is bigger than you see at any given moment.  

2. Sit on the earth:  Busy schedules tend to include being in chairs, cars, or walking about. Take some time to sit down on the earth, sitting lower slows us down and allows us to tap, however briefly, into the rhythm of nature.  When we were young we sat on the ground all the time, remember this for a moment, go outside find a good spot of soil, sand, grass, or rock and criss-cross applesauce!  Once you're down, do whatever you want!

3. Play a game of smell and find:  Speaking of being young and playful again, see if you can introduce this game into your repertoire of busy.  Go outside, this can be in your backyard, a garden, or the park down the street.  Once there, close your eyes and inhale through your nose, and notice your olfactory palette experience, notice the smell that is most intense or pleasurable or slight or interesting to you.  Then open your eyes and begin to play a game of hide and seek with the scent.  You are always it but it's super fun!

4. Close your Eyes and Listen: So you can close your eyes and smell, or you can close your eyes and listen.  We are largely visual being living a very visual oriented world, it is easy to forget our other sense as times.  So take a moment to go outside and remember you are a hearing person as well!  Listen and discovery what's around you in a different way, do the trees, wind, birds, insects make a sound?  See how long you can last without opening your eyes, live in your curiosity with sound as a way to connect to the world around you.  What's greeting you that you don't recognize with your eyes?

5. Create a spot to give to every day:  This is an activity that you can revisit over and over.  And there are so many ways to do this!  Gather some rocks or sticks or pinecones, or whatever calls to you to make it your own.  Using your found items create a space however big or small, create a border around this space so that you can find it easily again and again.  Place whatever you'd like into this space.  But the important part is to visit it daily with an offering...perhaps a flower, or an herb picked by the nearby plant, or drops of water or a new rock or acorn.  This can be your garden or just a small square at the base of tree, but the brief exchange is reciprocal and can be transformational!

6. Touch: Touch everything!  We have tons of boundaries as humans, but nature does not hold these rules.  So, go out and touch everything!  Leaves, tree trucks, bugs, flower petals, thorns, blackberries, rocks, water.  Whatever you touch you are connected to instantly!

7. Get a Dog:  (I know, this is a big commitment one, but I just had to include it as a dog owner and lover.) Dogs are not only great companions AND they are great for getting you outside!  Say what you will about them being needy creatures, and recognize that their needy-ness to go out brings you out--it's truly the gift that is of greatest benefit to you!

Research has shown that as little as 5 minutes a day outside has an incredibly huge impact on an individual.  Being outside can increase attention, elevate mood, decrease stress levels, lower blood pressure, lead to fewer headaches and illness, and greater life satisfaction.  Nature can restore us, physically, psychologically and socially.  Being busy may seem like you are living; but I encourage you to take time to connect with nature daily and see how Alive you become.