During this unprecedented time of staying at home, the earth is showing us how much better she feels when we sit still for a while. The canals in Venice are clear again without boat traffic. Air pollution levels have dropped worldwide. Animals are coming out into towns and cities where they have never been seen before. The Himalayan peaks are visible in India for the first time in decades.
While it is not possible for us to sustain our lock-down forever, I hope this gives us some guidance on how to go forward with a plan to walk more gently on our earth. Our survival depends upon it.
Here are a few simple ways you can reconnect to the earth, both for your benefit and for hers.
- Hang your clothes out on the line to dry in the sun. There is nothing sweeter than air dried laundry, and your clothes dryer uses a lot of energy. Just for today, forgo the dryer and reacquaint yourself with the sweet smell of line-dried sheets.
- Open your windows and let the breezes blow the stale air out of your house. If the weather is good where you are, take advantage of it. Being shut up in our houses is not healthy if we are not getting fresh air from time to time. Letting that air in is a good way to refresh the air in your home and make you feel more connected to the outdoors, even if you are staying in.
- Take a blanket out into your yard, on your patio or into your garden and lie in the sun, looking up at the clouds. Take a book, your drink of choice, a couple of pillows and luxuriate in the beauty of this earth that we have been gifted. While you’re at it, take off your shoes and walk on the earth. When we spend time physically connected to the earth it can improve our health. Research suggests our disconnect from the earth’s supply of electrons may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Studies show that spending time connecting to the earth — walking barefoot on the grass, for example — brings many benefits, including pain relief and improved sleep. I find it to be a tremendous stress reliever, too.
- Put up a bird feeder where you can see it from your window. Feeding the birds is a great way to reconnect to nature. When you begin to see birds flock to your feeder, you will become curious about them. Maybe you will invest in a field guide, or a bird id app on your phone. Becoming familiar with the birds in your yard is a great way to wake up a desire to care for the earth, and is a great way for your kids to learn about the natural world, too.
5. Plant something. You don’t have to have a big yard to start growing something. All you need is a few pots on your patio and some soil and seeds. You can find all kinds of info online about how to grow things in pots. If you are a beginner, be sure to educate yourself first so you will meet with success; otherwise you will decry your black thumb! There is no such thing. People who can’t grow things only lack knowledge. Take advantage of what’s out there and get started. There is no joy like putting a tiny seed in the soil and watching it become flowers or vegetables for your table.
6. Take a walk in the woods. Japanese doctors have been prescribing Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. There have been many studies proving the benefits of spending time among the trees. Trees emit compounds called phytoncides which are shown to support the immune system, fight infections and lower inflammation. Being in nature has also been proven to lower blood pressure. So find a park, a patch of woods or a forest to spend time in today and as often as you can. Nature has provided everything we need to be well, we just need to take advantage of it.
In this time of physical disconnection from one another, let’s take advantage of some physical connection to our mother. The earth is there for us to enjoy — to heal us, inspire us, calm us and to hold us in this difficult time. Please go outside and thank her. We depend on her, and she depends on us to take care of her so she can take care of us.