Mountains, trees, rivers, the sun, the moon, the stars, and everything out there- if you spend time with them you definitely feel good. But what is that which makes you feel so good? Science says that nature instills in us a ‘feel good’ factor because our very being has evolved from her. We need the natural elements, broadly speaking, nature in its entirety, because it is embedded in our very DNA.
These explanations sound too complex, right? Well, I have spent a lot of time in the arms of nature and have also interacted with people who do so or love to do so. My experiences and interactions have helped me to come up with certain reasons why nature feels so good. I am glad to share those with you.
Nature tells us that nothing is wrong with us
When you are in the company of nature, there is absolutely no need to look at mirrors. Your focus is either on the backdrop surrounding you or on the activity that you are engaging in, such as gardening, hiking, setting up a tent or climbing a tree. This might be the reason why researchers have found that on spending time amidst nature, our body image improves.
When nature is all around you and you are spending time along or with a friend or amongst a group of people, there is a wonderful relief from classism, homophobia, racism, gender bias and all the numerous other means through which people tend to demean and stigmatize one another.
Against such feelings, Mother Nature presents her glorious diversity. You come across trees that are tall or short, skinny or fat. Again, within a bunch of pink flowers, you might come across a yellow one and realize that in it nature has chosen to differ. There are no feelings like “how wrong”, “why different”, “it is so fat”; we can only exclaim “how beautiful”, “how serene” or “how pure”. This has a great impact on our thoughts and feelings.
In nature, time slows down
In the brick and mortar world, deadlines or urgency is expressed in terms of ‘clock time’, which is measured in seconds, minutes or hours. Unfortunately, clocks teach us and even train us to shun our bodies’ natural rhythms and abide by the schedules that the economic world has fixed for us. You will all agree when I say that this creates a lot of stress.
Contrary to this fast paced world, the world of nature follows a healthier pace. Plants grow slowly, cows graze peacefully, while squirrels and rabbits scamper about following their natural rhythm. So, when you are in nature, unknowingly you begin to follow this natural rhythm that your body loves, and you start feeling good.
Nature is designed on the ‘just enough’ dogma
Accept it, our culture teaches us that however much we have, it is not enough. We are always pushing ourselves to the extreme in order to earn more money, eating more delicious food or purchasing more things. In the process, we even forget (the culture itself teaches us to do so) how this over consumption on our part affects others.
Just compare this cultural system to the ecological system which personifies balance and harmony. When adequate water and nutrients are available, trees grow to a particular height. Again, I have never seen squirrels storing more than what they require in order to bail themselves out in the winter season. They never expect their nuts to grow exponentially as we greedy humans expect with our investments. When we become one with nature, we too start imbibing and experiencing this balance and harmony, which paves the route to happiness.
You give up control and comfort
Our mundane life teaches us to make it more pleasurable, more comfortable, and in turn to do away with hardships as much as we can. In this kind of a pursuit of happiness, we forget that everything cannot be controlled, and it is not possible to be comfortable all the time. As we vainly try to achieve everlasting comfort, we make our lives meaningless and dull, thereby killing first the mind and then the soul.
Nature takes us back to the real world where we actually belong. It is not possible for you to stop the rains or make the setting sun wait or set the temperature to your desired level with a remote. As you climb a mountain, you feel your muscles burning, and the realization dawns on you that everything is not under your control. You come face to face with the reality that lack of control and hardships are a part and parcel of life. The acceptance of this reality is intermingled with the joy associated with life, with simply being alive.
Nature helps you acknowledge the truth of life and death
It is a common tendency to avoid the acceptance of death in spite of knowing that death is the ultimate truth. When you come face to face with nature, you always find some or the other dead tree, and the most striking thing is that you will find that tree nursing some young plant. As you walk through a place that has been on fire you come across newly enriched soil sustaining wildflowers. This co-existence of life and death in nature makes us accept death and simultaneously acknowledge life’s value. Once this happens, we experience the joy of being alive, the ecstasy of facing the reality of life’s natural cycle.