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Enjoying the Summer Months & Utilizing Nature to Benefit You

July is a month full of summer retreats and excursions, play, a sense of peace, and Mother nature in full-bloom. Many spend their time outdoors and enjoy the weather--playing, hiking, spending time on the water, or meditating in natural surroundings. Participating in these activities is beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit; but sometimes it can be hard for individuals to fully immerse themselves in the beauty around them, especially if they are suffering from anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges.

Meditation and nature

Have you noticed the peaceful feeling you get when you hear the sound of waves or a mountain stream? Nature effortlessly provides these mechanisms, at the tip of our fingertips, that we can use to help channel inward and meditate. There are different ways to meditate outdoors, whether you are sitting or walking, and a number of elements that can be incorporated to help.

Meditating in nature heightens all of the senses. You can feel a soft breeze brush across your skin as the warm sunlight soaks in with all of its lovely vitamin D. You can smell the earthiness of the dirt or fresh morning dew around you. You can hear birds chirping or wind shaking the trees and their leaves above you. You can see water flowing in a creek or clouds slowly moving in the sky. Some of the smallest things, usually unrecognizable, begin to synchronize your body with the earth itself. You start to feel in tune with your surroundings, allowing you to go further within.

We don't feel alone in nature when we are at peace within our self; being in solitude can be a joyful and harmonizing experience. One can meditate while sitting, using the standard technique of focusing on your breath, you can also meditate while walking on clear trails, focusing of the action of walking (one step after another). Any of these steps will help us reach mindfulness; thus relieving tension, stress, and anxiety in daily life.

Additional Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

According to the Harvard Health Letter , “Light tends to elevate people's mood, and there's usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.”

In addition to the natural light and vitamin D, spending time outdoors usually means we are more physical and our bodies are expressing energy, in turn helping us to relax. Studies have also shown that time outdoors lowers the heart rate and reduces cortisol levels - huge indicators of stress.

Nature is also a gift that inspires--allowing us to seek ingenuity for art, thought, poetry, and more. It even helps us focus more and jump out of writer’s block when it occurs. Lastly, all this time outdoors is believed to prolong life and help our immune systems.