Art by David Padilla and Victor Murillo

Living and interacting with human beings provides us with a unique opportunity to advance mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as they reflect what we cannot see within ourselves. Similar to our interactions with others, nature has the remarkable ability to provide us a new form of attaining self-transcendence simply through its existence. Not only can nature provide us food, medicine, minerals, the absorption of CO2, oxygen, and so forth, but it can also allow us to advance into our purest and highest form simply by being a symbolic representation of something we aspire to be. Once we are able to see nature in this way, perhaps after deep and contemplative thought, we can acknowledge that there is no better place to discover our full potential than through witnessing the pure essence and being of nature.

When I strip away the concept of self/ego/identity, the physical body, and all the sheaths beneath them I remember that I am nature. From death to life, happiness to sadness, transition to destruction, both humans and nature experience life in the same way. So why is it that we don’t look to nature for wisdom in the same way we look for it in others?

Here are three ways I’ve learned and healed through nature…

When I bathe or swim in water, I feel the purest form of love. Water holds me and helps me feel safe and protected. After looking at my own expression of love through the lens of water, I ask myself, in which way can I also love and hold myself or others in the same way water does for me? By learning and feeling this message through a felt experience vs. knowledge, I can truly embody the essence of love and hold the element of water as a place I can turn to when I need love, safety, or protection most.

When I explore the form of a tree I see that both the tree and the human body have many similarities. Both have a crown on top and mobile limbs stemming from a central trunk. The pattern of the tubular branches (bronchi) in our lungs is similar to the root system of many trees. And when I look at the physical appearance of a tree, I marvel at its imperfections, its dead or broken branches, and flakey outer bark are what make the tree captivating and unconventionally perfect. But when I have looked at myself, I have pointed out my imperfections and “flaws”. I’ve detested the spots on my face and stretch marks on my thighs. Yet through this comparison and contrast with a tree, I’ve learned to love my body and its imperfections in the same way I admire and love the dead or broken branches of a tree. The mere existence of a tree has taught me self-love and self-acceptance.

And finally, nature is altruistic in the sense that it is always giving in and of itself without ever asking for anything in return. I look at nature as a framework to which I hold myself to.

By truly seeing and feeling nature we create a temporary collapse of the very distinction between the self and nature. Where the boundaries between our self and the natural world are temporarily dissolved.

The moment we cut the tree down or dry out the water in our river beds, we no longer have our highest version of ourselves reflecting back at us. We no longer have our oldest, and wisest teacher sharing lessons to help us transcend.

Nature allows me to know myself through itself.

So one question you can ask yourself after reading this is, "how can I be more like nature?".

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