21-day Sādhanā challenge – Day 6

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

Why is it that we think of a retreat, of going away from it all, we always tend to go closer to nature?

I am fortunate enough to live in a community that is very close to nature. We have low-rise buildings, larger terraces, trees all over and abundant green spaces. I wake up with the chirping of the birds, and this continues all through the day, until they retire at sunset. A couple of bowls of fresh water, a few pieces of tomato and a smile in the heart is all it takes to connect with these birds. They have nested many times, and I’ve been privileged to see more than a dozen eggs hatch, and young ones being fed by their parents…

We are all extensions of nature – hence the term ‘Mother Nature’. We are born from nature, we live by nature, and when we are gone, we become part of nature again.

This cosmic bonding with nature is why we feel so calm and composed when we are surrounded by nature in it’s abundance. Take a walk in the morning sun, feel the green grass under your bare feet, run your fingers through the flowing water of a stream, hear the sounds of birds and crickets – being in nature, and with nature, is the antidote to any level of stress that you may experience. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.

I just heard about the art of Shinrin-Yoku, or the Japanese art of forest bathing. Shinrin means forest, and yoku means bath.

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Shinrin-yoku is a process of simply being with nature, abundantly connecting with it using our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. And a sixth sense of bonding that comes naturally when you open your heart to nature. Shinrin-yoku doesn’t involve any elaborate ritual or technique, it is merely the act of walking through a forest, leaving all your technology behind, and imbibing the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and feel of the trees, the earth, the streams and ponds…

Of course, most of our connections with nature have now been reduced to ‘Office Music Playlists’ and ‘Rain Music for Sleep’ on streaming apps, and possibly a weekly visit to a park nearby. Can we do more to be with nature? What if we live in a small apartment in the city?

It isn’t difficult if you put your mind to it. You can start by having a small plant at your desk at work, and at home as well.

There are small indoor plants available, that don’t take much maintenance – a glass of water once or twice a week, and a kind word every day:) Try using fresh herbs (you get these in any supermarket) and you can also grow some herbs like coriander and mint – they don’t take a lot of tending. But, when you use them, be thankful to them in your heart for giving you nourishment.

If you have a small balcony, keep a bowl of water outside, especially on sunny days and in summer. Birds are more intelligent than us, they will manage to find the water soon enough. Once they start coming, try cutting a tomato or a cucumber in small bits and keep these next to the water bowl. Slowly, you will find them visiting you regularly, mostly every day. At first, they may be scared of you, but gradually, they will warm up to your presence.

Be mindful – birds can sense hostility or negativity – so always keep a smile in your heart and genuinely feel like connecting with them.

You will not be disappointed:)

Photo by kalpesh patel on Unsplash

We are all part of nature. Let’s reconnect with it in our own small ways, and rediscover the wonders that we tend to overlook when we are busy and hyperconnected. You have 20 days that you can use now to make it a habit…Will you?

I leave you with a few sounds that I experience every morning, thanks to my feathered friends – was recorded as I typed this article. Hope you like them too:)