Looking to nature and flow
Nature is more than the outside world—it is also found internally, interpersonally, and spiritually (in the influential, yet unseen worlds where we all exist).
Looking to nature is a simple choice, a decision that will open doors of understanding and inspiration. It’s not about being an expert in something—quite the opposite. It’s about remaining in a state of awe about the workings of the inner and outer worlds.
If skill is involved, it is the ability to cultivate awareness—to pay attention to your experience, rather than running on autopilot. This attention shift has an important effect on your brain, opening the door to inner wisdom.
Shifting attention to awareness as you observe the environment is a powerful type of meditation. It can create a kind of euphoric state where connections and insights are made. This euphoric state is similar to the state of “flow” (often called “the zone”), wherein the mind and body stop struggling though what is happening, to let go and flow effortlessly through the experience.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of positive psychology—flow is a state of optimal experience: the state when people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, self-consciousness disappears, and time becomes distorted.
Flow is a commonly experienced by athletes, writers, and artists. Within it, one’s mind and body meet and quiet to a slower rhythm. Vision becomes tunneled and focus expands. You are able to sense, see, and feel your surroundings in a new way. Everything synchronizes—you are no longer thinking about what you’re doing—it’s just happening. You lock into alpha brain waves and your creativity, flexibility, and awareness go through the roof.
Entering this state takes time, intention, and concentration. You do not need physical activity to access flow, but that is one possibility. So is meditation. Looking and connecting to nature is another. We live busy lives, often insulated from the natural environment. To access flow, we must stop moving, physically, and slow down internally. Like meditation, wherein one intentionally sits in quiet, nonjudgmental internal observation, we can have a similar, even more dynamic experience by sitting quietly in nature for at least 10 minutes—eyes open, ears open, and attention focused on what is happening in the moment.