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Let Nature Tune Up Your Body and Brain

Different kinds of trees grow near each other in this rural setting.
Trees flourish in a rural area.

Nature can help your brain and your body stay healthier. You can take a hike into the mountains or anywhere else in nature to give your brain and body a tune-up.

 

Or you can do something a little less time consuming and, basically, cost free. Find a tree near where you live. It might be a tree in your yard, in your neighborhood, or in a community park.

 

Spend a little time walking near the tree, sitting under its branches, or admiring it as you stroll through the park or neighborhood. When you do that, notice what begins to happen to your body and your brain. Does your body start to relax? Does your brain quit going a hundred miles an hour and begin to slow down?

 

Do you feel less stressed? Are your worries starting to fade? You might feel more alert. Maybe you sense a surge of creativity flooding your mind and body. As you start to relax, you may discover you can let go of those angry, upset, or irritated thoughts about a person or situation.

 

By the time you've spent 15 or 20 minutes around those trees, you may feel like you have a lot more energy. It's amazing how good we can feel when we let go of unhealthy thoughts that weigh us down. It takes a lot of energy to carry around so much weight!

 

There are many places where you can learn more about the benefits of being in nature and about getting into a meditative state. One of those places is in Mindful Magazine, which is packed full of ideas for getting healthier by learning to mindfully meditate in different ways. You can get it on-line or as a colorful  magazine postal mailed to your home.

 

Have fun spending a little time among trees in the next few days. You may be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.

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Make Up a Name for Your Favorite Tree

This spruce tree in my back yard has a new name: Meleeka
Spruce tree in my back yard

Five years ago, when I moved to the house where I live now, I went into the back yard and looked at a tall spruce tree. It seemed quite beautiful. In the evening, it looked a little sparkly. It seemed to be catching a hint of light from somewhere. I called it Sparkly Spruce.

 

Every time I went into the back yard, I would say, "Hello, Sparkly Spruce." It made the tree seem like a friend.

 

But I always thought there was a better name for the tree. For a long time, I couldn't figure out what that name might be.

 

Then one day this month when it was cold outside, I stayed inside and looked through the living room glass sliding door at Sparkly Spruce. There was something elegant about the tree, something almost regal.

 

I thought about calling it Mellik, a name that means king in Arabic. But that didn't seem to suit it. There was something feminine about the tree. I didn't know what the female version of Mellik was, but Meleeka sounded like it would work. The name seemed to fit the tree. Now every time I'm in the back yard, I say, "Hi, Meleeka." It's fun to think about having royalty living in my yard.

 

Do you have a favorite tree in your yard or somewhere in your neighborhood? It might be fun to figure out a name for the tree you like so much.

 

Stand near the tree. Study it. Notice everything about it. You may feel a sense of calmness as you focus on the tree.

 

What name do you think fits the tree? If no name comes, just keep noticing how comfortable you feel being around the tree. A name might pop into your head. If it seems to fit the tree, it will be a good name for it.

 

Every time you go by the tree, you can say hi to the tree and call it by the name you gave it. The tree might seem a little more special to you because you have given it a name.

 

The next time you are bored and wonder what to do, find another tree and go through the same process to give it a name. It's a fun way to be creative.

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How to Help Others Stay Grounded

This tall cottonwood leans a little before it straightens up.
A tall cottonwood

When people are sick or experience an emotional upheaval, they often have a hard time staying grounded. Instead of feeling connected to the good old terra firma, they seem to be floating off somewhere. Talk to them, and they're a little flighty and unattached. Their mind wanders, making them unfocused.

 

How do you help someone like that? If they can walk, take them outside and sit with them near a tree. Trees are so attached to the Earth with their roots that their groundedness can have a positive affect on whoever feels a little flighty, unfocused, or unattached.

 

If they are too sick to go outside, buy a potted plant, something rooted in soil. Put that plant in their hospital room or bedroom where they can easily see it as they lie in bed. They may get a sense of rootedness from the plant. It could help them feel more grounded.

 

Talk with them about ways to feel more grounded. Have them imagine they are lying on green grass and feeling the firmness of the Earth through their bodies. Or imagine they are on a beach half buried in pleasantly warm sand. That feeling of being attached to the Earth helps people feel more connected to their own life in this present moment. It can help them heal faster and feel more enthusiastic about wanting to get well.

 

If they can't get outside and plants are not allowed inside, play a game with them. Each of you imagine a tree you have seen that made an impression on you. Take turns describing the tree you remember, what its bark looked like, how its roots grew into the soil, how you felt when you were near it. Whoever isn't doing the remembering should listen carefully. Just remembering the tree can help a person feel more grounded. And just being listened to can make them feel more whole.

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