These rituals may be incorporated into your Slow Beauty practice on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Select from the following list and work them into your Mapping (see here) as it feels natural.
In his blog Earthing (2010), Clinton Ober highlights all the benefits of immersing ourself in nature, such as reducing the stress-producing hormone cortisol, inflammation, and muscle tension; improving sleep; and increasing energy. I know that when I spend time soaking in nature, my entire mood lifts. This is not necessarily a momentary benefit, either. Depending on the amount of time I spend communing with the great outdoors, I may feel that lift reverberating throughout my life for days to come.
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A recent Nielsen audience report revealed that adults spend over ten hours per day in front of a screen and that number is growing. This accounts for nearly half of our day. If we spend eight hours sleeping, that leaves us with only six hours of nonscreen time each day. This is alarming, and it’s important that we remember it hasn’t always been this way. As a child of the ’ 80s, I would often walk home from school, then while away the hours before dinner climbing trees, running, or biking around the neighborhood. Even in the midst of frigid Michigan winters, I would bundle up in a snowsuit and spend hours outside breaking icicles off of the side of my house to use for the snow forts I built.
Experiences like mine are quickly becoming a thing of the past as the world changes rapidly. There is now even a condition called nature-deficit disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv in his blog Last Child in the Woods. He cites the “lure of the screen” as one of the main culprits in bringing about this disorder. Less exposure to nature is linked to depression, anxiety, and challenges handling stress.
Nature bathing provides us with a way to immerse ourself in nature. The idea here is to spend at least thirty minutes per day outside, with your bare feet on the ground, reconnecting to earth. Too often today, we treat nature as if it is a stranger we fear it, label it, and avoid it. The truth is, we are only robbing ourself. Being in nature is so healing for the mind, body, and soul.
Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
Seek out daily opportunities to connect with nature. The first and second light sequence is one way to make that connection because it gets you outdoors immediately upon waking, and away from your desk again at midday. More important, carve out time to really immerse yourself in nature for extended periods of time. Ideally, this time will also be disconnected time allow yourself the freedom of unplugging.
In addition to walking outside, find time for such activities as hiking, camping, and biking. Your outdoor adventure can be either challenging or meandering, depending upon what you need that particular day. One of my favorite days in recent memory was spent on a ropes course with my kids. The course was in the middle of a forest, so we were exposed to the trees, fresh air, and three-dimensionality of the woods, as we used our body to traverse the courses. Being high up in the trees, focusing on my next balanced step, served as a form of deep meditation. I was breathing deeply, and fully present in the now. I felt the benefits for days afterward! It elevated my mood and cleared my mind of racing thoughts.
The amount of time we spend away from nature, whether it be in our house, office, or car, is an act of self-imposed cruelness. We were not designed to sit in cubicles like barn animals (barn animals are not meant to be there, either). The entire office environment needs to be rethought and nature brought into the design. The same can be said about our learning institutions. Children spend way too much time stuck behind closed doors in classrooms, cut off from the environment they are meant to explore and be curious and open-minded about. We need to find more ways to bring nature closer to us so we are not estranged from (and even worse, fear) the beauty and benefits of nature where we can savor silence, reconnect with our authentic self, and benefit from the healing medicine of being immersed in nature.
DOCTRINE OF SIGNATURES
This philosophy dates back to the sixteenth century, when it was believed that foods and herbs resembled the element of the body they were meant to heal or bring wellness to. Although there is no scientific basis for the Doctrine of Signatures, it’s nonetheless true that some fruit and vegetables out there resemble the part of the body they are good for, which makes for a fun little exercise. For example, celery is good for bone health and resembles bones; tomatoes are good for heart health and the inside of a tomato looks like the chambers of a heart. This practice also promotes mindful, intuitive eating practices. This is a simple way to think about how to nourish ourself intentionally.
Check out this photographic chart with descriptions of the parts of our body that benefit from each food. Give this ritual a whirl by selecting the food that is meant to nourish a part of your body that needs a little extra TLC.