From Michelle’s Best Selling Book – Healthy Healing

Taking time to be quiet, to be alone, or to be still can be a difficult thing for anyone experiencing grief. Aloneness is something a griever is all too familiar with. But there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

Nature gives me a very different feeling from that of being surrounded by thousands of souls. When I take the time to travel into nature I feel alone, but I never feel lonely. Nature gives me time to reflect, quiet my mind, and hear my inner voice. It makes me feel small – not in an intimidating and overwhelming way, but in a grand and inspiring way. It reminds me of all the beauty this life still holds and all the joy I can still experience. Being in nature is a cathartic and healing experience that gives me clarity I need to take bold steps in this life after loss. When I connect to the power of a raging river, the rhythmic pounding of the ocean surf, or the sounds of animals on a mountain trail, I’m reminded that I’m still here for a reason and it’s up to me to discover what that reason is. When I summit a mountain peak I marvel at the grand wonder that lies all around me, and I force back tears at the power of my body and more importantly, my will.

In one spontaneous moment, nature can remind us that our problems, while tremendous will not be the definition of our stories, but rather a beautiful and instrumental step in our growth and development. The mountains after all did not become grand, the oceans did not become beautiful, and the canyons did not become vast and wide without years of pressure, fire, and change. Nature is a metaphor for our lives after loss.

Beyond the obvious benefits of fresh air and inspiring, humbling views, being outside allows your body to soak up natural sunlight. Too much time indoors can hinder the body’s ability to repair itself. Both darkness and sunlght. Both darkenss and sunlight influence hormone production in the brain and the all-important protein BDNF. Darkness triggers the production of melatonin, which aids in sleep and relaxation. Exposure to natural sunlight increases the production of serotonin, which is associated with boosting your mood, promoting calmness, and increasing focus. A lack of sunlight can cause dips in serotonin and potential increases in some forms of depression, like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). By taking time to be in nature you are not only giving your mind clarity and your spirit inspiration; you are also breathing in cleaner, fresher air and providing a natural boost to your being.

Regardless of where you live, you can find beauty in nature. Every corner of the globe offers nature, and every time you take a quiet walk under the trees, through mountain shadows, or next to ocean waves, you are reminded of the force within. Start with a simple walk alone. Listen and you will be amazed by what you hear, deep from within your soul. Don’t tell yourself that the area where you live isn’t pretty enough to get out and enjoy; every part of our world can offer incredible beauty if you look hard enough.

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