For eons, people have been struggling with the concept of time. It permeates our language and influences our outlook on life. After all, time is money, time is of the essence and time flies, right!
And so, we struggle for control over time: we measure time, stretch time, lose time, kill time, and still never have enough time! It’s not surprising we feel this way. The pace of life today is far more frenetic than it was even just a generation ago.
In the struggle to control time, we’ve grown so out of touch with the natural world that it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s day or night, hot or cold, summer or winter. We control the climate at home, in the car and at the office. We create artificial environments to extend our days. We eat food with little regard for its season or source.
These artificial life choices further separate us from the rhythms and cycles of nature, desensitizing us to nature’s seasonal indicators of passing time. When we stare into the cold screens of our electronic gadgets, we disconnect from the natural world around us and forget our origins.
In the words of author Michael McCarthy, “We need constant reminding that we have only been operators of computers for a single generation… but we were farmers for 500 generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps 50,000 or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved.”
If we want inner peace, we need to learn how to coexist peacefully with the inevitable march of time instead of trying to control it. We need to synchronize with time at all levels. The sixteenth-century Chinese poet Liu Wenmin put it this way:
“To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.”
Time moves on whether we are hurtling through life or savoring it. We can – indeed we must – learn to remain still and calm amid the torrent of commitments, not allowing our overscheduled lives to rob us of the time we need to recalibrate and connect to the natural world, ourselves, and each other.
The simple act of spending time in nature is one such solution that has many healing properties. In Japan, this healing process is known as “shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing. Scientific studies confirm that spending time in nature can lead to decreased stress hormone production, lower heart rate and blood pressure, elevate mood and strengthen the immune system.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to return to the same place season after season, you’d recall the private pleasure of reconnecting to a special place each time you returned: becoming aware of the height of the tide, the direction of the wind, the time of sunrise and sunset, and the phase of the moon. Having a place in nature to return to allows us to reconnect where we’d left off, much like picking up an old friendship.
Sometimes we encounter the power and beauty of the natural world in one startling moment: observing the grandeur of a rainbow after a storm, or seeing the beauty of some tiny creature up close. These are magical moments when all sense of time stops and we’re caught up in the wonder of the present moment.
To connect to nature is to reconnect to our own origins. Stepping out of our man-made schedules and obligations – even if just for a few moments – to look at the clouds, smell the air, feel the breeze on our skin, helps us reconnect to the eternal nature of creation and find peace.
About the author
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.