As a child, I think everyone has a strong affinity to the natural world. Every little kid always begs to go outside and loves rolling around in the grass. I was the same way, but as I grew older I began to lose this connection. By middle school, I would always choose drawing inside over going for a run and had little enthusiasm for family hiking trips.
I think this mentality began to shift as I went to college. With the stress of freshman transitions, I discovered that all my safe places were outside. Whenever I was feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I would walk to the battery and as soon as I saw the water I immediately felt like I could breathe again. I think this roots back to my familial connection to the ocean where some of my best memories growing up in Florida took place at the beach where I was raised on stories told by my father of seafaring pirates and sailors. As I grew to know the city better, I found more safe spots. When I felt unhappy or just wanted alone time, I would go sit in parks or lay out in the sun. Maybe only a block from my roommates, I felt completely at peace and I felt a rare sense of privacy even in a bustling public space.
Now, I feel more connected to the natural world than I ever have. I spend essentially as much time outside as I can – I do my homework in the grass, I longboard around town in any free time, I take trips to the beach, I go camping – I always ‘choose outside.’ As cheesy as it may sound, this has been a keystone on my path to self-discovery.
In times of difficulty, I became deeply attached to meditation, yoga, and Eastern spirituality. Hindu and Buddhist thought heavily emphasizes the equality in all living things, true to the belief that all parts of the Earth, including ourselves, contain something sacred, what some would describe as a piece of God. Additionally, ‘groundedness’ is underlined as a primary pillar in meditation. This term can only be described as a sense of rootedness, feeling grounded and connected to the Earth below you.
The practice of meditation is extremely important in my daily life and I always begin a session by feeling this sense of ‘groundedness.’ I feel comfort in my connection to the Earth below me. When life becomes overwhelming or I feel myself straying from my values, I am able to re-center myself based on this connection to the Earth. Meditating outside is the best – feeling the soil or sand beneath you and becoming completely present in the sounds and smells of the Earth is completely rejuvenating.
As a person prone to anxious overthinking, taking a ten-minute break to sit outside and concentrate on the present moment is essential to my life. I have found that there is no better place to reconnect with myself than outside. The Earth is an absolutely amazing gift that we should all take comfort in every day.