We are all intrinsically connected to nature. The more we awaken to this truth, the more powerful we become. The same five elements in nature- fire, water, earth, air and space- are the same five elements found within our bodies; in Ayurveda this is known as the Panchamahabuta theory.
The Ayurvedic tradition recognizes that there is a delicate balance between these elements manifested within us. It also honors that this balance, or imbalance, can deeply affect the well-being of our minds, bodies, and spirits; in the same way that an imbalance in nature can create profound harm. In order to honor our personal well-being, we must consider our relationship with nature and the well-being of the environments around us.
Connecting With Nature Through Ayurveda
With the knowledge that each of us contains a unique makeup of these elements, we can embrace the inherent truth that everything is interconnected, and we are all a part of the whole. We move beyond the limits and suffering inherent with separation, and we can feel a rising bliss from within us, just as we move towards this recognition of connection.
By recognizing our relationship and inherent connection with nature, we can begin to see how caring for the environment is a way of caring for ourselves, and how caring for ourselves is, in turn, caring for the environment.
Through the lens of Ayurveda, we gain a deeper understanding of our elemental nature by connecting with and balancing three basic energies: Vata, relating to air and space, Pitta, relating to fire and water, and Kapha, relating to earth and water. Each of us contains a unique make up of these energies and this make up is what creates our dosha. When one of these energies is out of balance, it can cause disruption and disharmony in all aspects of ourselves–from mind, to body, and spirit. Depending on what energies are experiencing imbalance, there are many Ayurvedic tools and practices that can support us on our journey back to harmony.
Self-Care Through Environmental Connection
Everything in nature is cared for intuitively in order to maintain a Divine balance. There are many ebbs and flows that can be seen as seasons change, which honor the varying needs of the land and the life that inhabits it. Often, we can take cues from the cycles that we witness in our environments to learn how to nurture ourselves best in each season and continue to find balance. Try the following practices to support your connection to yourself and your environment:
- Practice Receptivity and Reflection: Our connection with nature moves in all directions, just as nature is impacted by us, we are impacted by nature. To tune into the reciprocity of your relationship with the environment, practice reflecting on all the ways you receive joy, connection, and life from nature. You may do this by meditating in nature, taking your movement practice outside, or sitting in nature and journaling. Use these practices to deepen your understanding of what you’re receiving from nature.
- Earthing: Earthing is the practice of connecting your body to the earth, it can be done by standing barefoot, laying down in the grass, or placing your palms on the ground. I spend as much time as I can barefoot on the land where my family lives, in California and Hawaii. This simple practice makes me feel deeply connected to the earth around me in subtle and yet powerful ways. This direct connection makes me aware, every day, that we are not separate beings, that we are part of an integrated whole, and that the profound beauty of connection is something that is something we can choose in our everyday lives.
- Walking Meditation in Nature: Walking meditations are a beautiful way to bring awareness to your connection with the earth. By acknowledging each step you take and becoming present with each movement there’s an opportunity to embrace all aspects of nature. Take your time with this practice, walk slowly and take in the sounds, the smells, the colors, textures, and all forms of life around you. For a guided walking meditation practice, listen to session three of the Journey to Well-being: Environment program on the Chopra App.
- Practice Ahimsa (non-harming): The essence of Ahimsa is to embrace non-harming in all aspects of our lives, through our actions, thoughts, words, and intentions. In my life, this includes trying to take actions and be mindful to use words as kindly as possible to anyone I interact with throughout the day. I try to be careful to respect life in all ways— not to damage any plants or creatures—including tiny ones! And choose food to put into my body that is grown in the most earth-respecting ways. I remind myself each morning that we are here to be in service of love.
When we’re connected to nature and the elements surrounding us and flowing within us, we start to see ourselves as an extension or reflection of these elements and we notice all the ways in which we can support the earth.
Showing up For Our Environment
Nurturing our connection with nature inspires us to recognize the impacts that we have and our responsibility to create change that supports our world. Caring for our communities and for our environments is inherently caring for ourselves; and vice versa, caring for ourselves is caring for all life that surrounds us.
For us to find healing, we must honor and recognize that we are intrinsically connected with all the world around us in all aspects—which means that our healing is woven with the healing of our collective community and our environment.
Today, ask yourself:
What is one thing that I can do to take better care of the environment?