Our connection to nature

(Submitted by Chantal Delaperle, Canada)

An intimate relationship with the environment is built into the human psyche. Historically, nature, mountains, rivers, trees, the sun, the moon have always been honored in ancient cultures. It’s only when we start moving away from our connection to nature and our selves, that we begin polluting and destroying the environment. We need to revive these attitudes that foster our connection with nature.

In ancient times, if a person cut one tree, he planted five in return. The ancient people did not wash clothes in holy rivers; only ashes from cremation were submerged in the river so that everything dissolved back into nature. We need to revive traditional practices of honoring and conserving nature.

Nature has its own means of balance. If you observe nature, you will see that the five elements which form its basis are opposed to each other. Water destroys fire, fire destroys air. Then there are so many species in nature - the birds, reptiles, mammals; all these different species are hostile towards each other, and yet nature balances them out. We need to learn from nature how to balance opposing forces, within ourselves and in the world around us.

Above all, we need to be able to experience our world with an open mind that is free from stress, and from that place we need to create the means of protecting our beautiful planet earth. For this to happen, human consciousness must rise above greed and exploitation. Spirituality, the experience of one’s own nature, deep within, provides the key to this vital relationship with oneself, with others and with our environment. This connection to our own essential nature eliminates negative emotions, elevates one’s consciousness and creates a spirit of care and commitment for the whole planet.

What would help to elevate our consciousness and deepen our connection? Here are a few basic and effective pointers:

A proper diet. Our food influences our mind. The Jain tradition has done much research on the effect of food on the mind. Ayurveda and Chinese systems and many other native systems the world over have recognized the effect of food on the psyche. Modern science confirms that food can have a direct bearing on our emotions. Emotionally disturbed children tend to eat more and suffer from obesity. A properly balanced diet has a positive impact on our emotions and thereby on our consciousness.

Light to moderate exercise.

Panchakarma. In the ancient medical system of Ayurveda, there is a process of internal cleansing called panchakarma that involves massages, a prescribed diet and cleansing. This has helped thousands of people to come out of stress and behavioral disorders and is also a curative for many illnesses.

Yoga, Pranayama (breathing) and meditation. These are extremely vital to induce a sense of respect for one’s own body and the environment. They help to maintain a toxin-free system and thereby reduce the occurrence of emotional disturbances.

Music and dance. These can bring rhythm and harmony to the body-mind complex; especially music that is not too loud and violent. Music that is soothing and creates a gentle sway and rhythm in one’s system, like folk and classical music.

Nature. Spending time in nature, observing silence and engaging in prayer is very congenial for helping us to reflect on our own mind.

Last, but not the least: service to the less fortunate.

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