Using Nature to Heal the Spiritual Self

By Mallory Herrmann
healing power of nature, Earth Day

The Earth Has Everything It Needs: So Do We

Many of us have a tendency to accumulate stuff. We hold on to it. We hoard it. We worry about not having enough of it. We often get caught up in wanting to have, do, or be more.

However, when we look outside ourselves to the world around us, we remember that we already have everything we need. Reconnecting to nature is an opportunity to slow down, to heal—to appreciate what we do have instead of only worrying about what’s missing. Nature reminds us of our spiritual foundation and to see that we are enough.

It Can Be Messy

Unity Gardens at Unity Village, Using nature to heal the spiritual self

At The Gardens at Unity Village, a dedicated group of volunteers cares for a small acreage at Unity Village, Missouri. They cultivate orchard trees, vegetables, and herbs and sell what they produce at a market stand from May through October each year. It’s not a commercial operation, and it’s certainly a labor of love.

Drayton Riley, president of the board for the Gardens, says that the community of volunteers has a shared passion for stewardship of the land and the consciousness of sustainability. While they are all eager to see the organization grow, they also understand the risk of wanting to do too much.

“We’re not going to take on things we can’t manage,” he says. “It’s always going to be a little messy.”

He explains that while it’s important for the group to forecast where they want to go and work toward that goal, they have to give themselves permission to make mistakes.

Those can be hard lessons to learn. When the desire for perfection creeps in, it is important to acknowledge—even appreciate—our imperfections. When we try to make ourselves whole through getting more, we must remember that we already have enough.

It Can Be Freeing

Sensory forest immersion, spiritual health and nature

Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett remembers throwing a tantrum when she was a kid because her mom wouldn’t let her be in the orchestra and be a Girl Scout and do this or that. But now she sees that her mom was right: The idea that you can do it all is ridiculous.

Now Rev. Linda focuses on enjoying what she does have instead of creating anxiety around what she doesn’t. Since she and her husband recently downsized their home, she has found significant relief in recognizing the law of abundance at work.

“We don’t have to acquire and hold and hoard,” she says. “I can free myself of that mentality and engage in the beauty.”

The opportunity to remember that is all around us. Cultivating a practice of spending time outside and reconnecting to nature reminds us that the beauty of the outdoors isn’t outside of us. We’re a part of it and it’s a part of us.

Adopting a practice like the sensory forest immersion that Yoga Journal describes can help us reconnect with nature’s goodness.

Spending time to engage our senses outside cultivates the sense of connection that is essential to both physical and spiritual vitality.

It Can Be Enough

Stan Slaughter, Eco-Troubadour, nature heals the spiritual self

Stan Slaughter, the Eco-Troubadour, suggests that humans are the only animal that has this problem with “enough.” While we come from a long line of survivors, we only use a fraction of our ingenuity to create meaningful and fulfilling lives.

An avid floater in the Ozarks, Slaughter describes the power of rivers. With the sun above you, the air around you, the banks beside you, and the water supporting you, you’re at the boundary of all four elements. We may engage in this frenetic sense of “not enough,” but we have everything we need right here.

“There’s more in us than we know,” he says.

We often forget this. When we lose our spiritual foundation, Slaughter says, it’s like horses who suffer from hay belly: When they’re given low-quality feed, they just keep eating more and more in an attempt to make up the deficit in nutrition. They end up overfed and undernourished.

Like those horses, when we become disconnected from our spiritual center, we become clingy, greedy.

Instead of jumping to conclusions that we’re suffering from a lack in material abundance, recognize it as a craving for more meaningful connection.

Whether you’re floating down a river or digging in the garden or simply letting go of what you no longer need, we can support our spiritual foundation by reconnecting to nature and to ourselves.

For meditations on all the earth provides us, order the digital booklet Earth Blessings: Prayers for Our Planet.

Mallory HerrmannMallory Herrmann is a writer and editor in the Kansas City area. Her work has been featured in Unity Magazine, Career College Central, and the Lee’s Summit Tribune.