The hustle and bustle of modern life have many people wanting to “get back to nature” from time to time, which I wholeheartedly agree with. The problem I have observed is that many people seem to only want to be “in nature” rather than “with Nature”.
Be with Nature, Not Just in Nature
So, what do I mean by In Nature vs. with Nature? Being “in nature”, to me, is as simple as being outdoors, at a park, on a hiking trail, etc. Although I think this is a vast improvement over being inside at a computer or on the couch in front of a TV, it is a superficial interaction. The interaction with nature are brief and in passing, such enjoying the fresh air, the sunshine, and the scenery. These are pleasantries anyone can and should enjoy! There is definitely nothing wrong with being “in nature”
Comparatively, being “with nature” is observing the details of the flora, fauna, mineral, and atmospheric conditions, using more senses than only sight. It is interacting with your surroundings; Touching, listening, smelling, tasting and seeing. It is akin to the old saying of “stop and smell the roses”.
Being in nature is a nice change of pace for many people, however, I think many miss the richness of their environment. They are still hustling and bustling along nature trails, looking to achieve step totals, or get from point A to point B as fast as possible. They may be wearing headphones while power walking or cycling, drowning out nature’s music.
The Value of Being With Nature
The real value being “with nature” is in the connection, physical which leads to emotional and spiritual. Listening to songbirds’ symphony with the breeze playing percussion in the trees and the soothing babble of a stream providing the base. Touching a soft green moss carpeted log, the rough bark of an oak tree, the feathery papyrus of a river birch, or the elephant skin of a beech tree. Seeing the stone embankments, noticing the layers of years and eons that created the patterns. The flecks of quartz that glint in the sunshine, the intricate and tiny seashell imprints of ancient creatures buried and fossilized in a stone. The scent of flowers, freshly mown hay, leaf mold, decaying tree stumps, and more that create the unique atmosphere of that time, of that place. I find this connection very enriching. I find being with nature to be a form of meditation that can clear my head and focus better for when I get back into the everyday minutia.
Tips on Being With Nature
One may only experience nature at this depth if they saunter rather than jog, linger rather than hurry. I was inspired by my wife Carrie’s post as today is “Sauntering Day”. Being with nature is rather simple to achieve.
- Slow Down. You can’t make a connection with your surroundings if they are a blur.
- Be observant. This is not just with your eyes, but with your ears and nose as well.
- Interact with your surroundings. Touch a tree or stone. Whistle back at a bird. Smell a flower up close.
- Reach out with your feelings. Cheesy, sure, but connect your experiences to your emotions. How did it make you feel?
Just observing may be enough for you, but if you are interested in being more deeply emersed in nature you may wish to learn more about the aspects you observed that interest you most. Did the songbirds and waterfowl grab your attention? Get a book on birding . Are you fascinated by the trees, flowers and everything green as I am? Then maybe a book on your local flora would be for you? Did the rocks grab your attention? A book can help you become a rockhound. Many other aspects of nature may have caught your eye, from the clouds and weather, insects, local fauna, etc. Whatever it is, there is a book to help you learn more. In this way, slowing down and getting in tune with nature may open up a new learning experience or even a hobby.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I find in our search for paradise, a little bit can be found daily in just being with nature.
Do you feel you tend to be “in nature” or “with nature” and why? I look forward to your feedback in the comments.
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