The Importance of Nature
Posted by Trevor on 12 November 2012 | 4 Comments
Three Simple Steps has been out a couple of months now. The back page has the email address firstname.lastname@example.org so that readers can send feedback about their experiences. The publishers (www.benbellabooks.com) and I decided that a good spot for the book would be in airport bookstores. I hadn’t really thought about the implications of that and then I started to receive email feedback from all over the world. What a joy to hear from people in India, Venezuela, China, and Australia who have started to enjoy the incredible changes that these simple steps bring. Thanks to everyone who has emailed. I do respond to every one.
Curious about what aspects of the steps people would get most excited about, I was surprised at the number of people who commented about the beneficial effects of getting back to nature. In every message was the confession that the reader had let life’s tasks get in the way of the simplest of things, and that it had been years since they had taken a walk in the woods or waded in the surf.
Closer to home came further confirmation of this. Someone who does regular work on my home had bought Three Simple Steps. We started talking, and he told me about the changes he has made in his life. I could already see the effects in his demeanor. If he had not told me about buying the book I would have thought he’d been drinking lots of caffeine, so excited was he by the stuff now happening to him and around him. In particular, he talked about the difference getting back into nature has made to him and his wife. Previously, he rode around in his truck from client to client, always in a hurry, and always with his mind full of to-do lists. He drove through incredible countryside but never paid attention to nature around him. Now he pulls over when he sees something beautiful and spends 10 minutes just being there. He says it energizes him and all kinds of great ideas seem to be popping into his head.
I know exactly what he’s saying, because getting into nature turned my life around in a very real way. As a young kid, I lived in an inner-city environment in Liverpool. When I went into the country, it was like going through the wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia – just a whole other world. It was basically like coming out of a cave and seeing the sun for the first time.
I was acutely aware, even as a young child, of the changes in me that came from being in nature. Every opportunity I could get, I would go outside at any time of the day. I would meet my mates in the village, and we’d play in the streams or go cycling through narrow country lanes. Other times I’d just walk in the woods. I started to get a real understanding of the connection between everything that’s living, including myself.
This was at a time when I was also studying physics at school. I realized that everybody was applying the laws of nature or the laws of physics to what was outside of themselves. It was almost as if they saw and understood the natural laws in the environment around them, but they didn’t believe these laws applied to themselves. Yet they were also living entities, packets of energy, just like a tree or animal. I felt the connections between how we think and grow and how we use energy in exactly the same way as trees, flowers, pieces of grass or even cows in the field use energy. What I paid attention to, whether good or bad, I ended getting more of that in my life. I chose to pay attention to things I wanted instead of things I was against. Key turning point for me.
I came to understand that I am also a vessel of energy and that connecting is important. We connect by taking notice. When we see a tree or a view and think, “that is beautiful,” we form a connection. Mostly people are so lost in their worries and fears that they don’t even notice and the connection is broken.
In an extreme example, my wife and I were taking a sunset stroll on a beach when three humpback whales came close to shore. They were not in danger but working in unison to coral krill to eat. They hung around in the cove for a half hour and treated us to a full display of acrobatics. At the same time I noticed two women so locked in gossip that they walked the length of the beach and back without once noticing the whales or the small crowd of open jawed admirers lining the shore. That is how disconnected we can become; that a common dislike that had bonded these complainers so much they completely missed a once in a lifetime event.
If you choose to separate yourself from nature, it’s as if you put a block up. You block the flow of energy which instead of going through you somehow now has to go around you. And if energy doesn’t flow, it stagnates. When I take notice of a tree and the fact that it’s actually there, there’s a connection. My energy flows to the tree and the energy of the tree flows to me.
For that reason, as those who know me will testify, I get restless when I’m boxed into a meeting room, with my back to the window, a plastic plant in the corner and manufactured light overhead. I find that the energy in that room is very low. It’s not inspiring at all and the quality of solutions and ideas matches the weak energy. Everyone seems disconnected somehow, and most meetings deteriorate into whining and complaints. Get the same group outside for a few minutes and suddenly people are cracking jokes and coming up with innovative thoughts. If you don’t believe me test it for yourself. Hold the same meeting with one group indoors and then with another group take them for a walk outside and have the same discussion.
Keep in mind also that if you’re sitting in a cubicle workspace, your brain is connecting to the people around you, even if you’re not aware of it. Fine if they are a happy bunch, but that is seldom the case at work. Your neurons are picking up all of the negative energy from everybody else in the room, and as discussed in the neuroscience data in Three Simple Steps, that has a deleterious effect not only on your health but also on your performance. If you get out of that environment for a few minutes, your brain picks up on the trees and the birds and the grass and everything around you – and that is really healthy flowing energy. That translates into a completely different performance and a way to balance energy. Without trying to do anything you will feel healthier and more alert. Stop wasting money on those nonsense energy tonics you see advertised everywhere. Nature is far more potent than a little bottle of synthetic chemicals, but you have to be in it to get it.