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The Importance of Connecting with Nature to Connect with Ourselves

All human beings have an innate connection to nature, which has been emphasised for

centuries throughout philosophy, history, psychology and biology. While our modern

lifestyles have led to a view of being separate and superior to our environment [6], our

connection to nature is deeply embedded in the essence of what it means to be human.


Like all other relationships, our relationship to nature can be strengthened through connecting

with ourselves. In this way, our inner workings can drastically affect our physical reality. In a

reciprocal sense, the more connected we feel to ourselves, the more connected we feel to

nature; and the more connected we feel to nature, the more connected we feel to ourselves.


Research has showcased a plethora of psychological benefits that exist from having a strong

connection with nature, such as a greater sense of wellbeing and strong psychological

health across the lifespan [2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]. Those who feel deeply connected to nature

report higher life satisfaction [2, 7, 10, 11], which acts as a protective agent on the effects of

negative life experiences [12]. Deepening our connection to nature also fosters personal

growth, vitality and stronger meaning in life [8, 11, 13, 14, 15].



Seeing as our mental health

can be supported and strengthened through our relationship with the natural world, it is an

essential connection to maintain and to nurture. Engaging in self-awareness supports our ability to notice our surroundings and reassures us that we are all part of the same self-regulating, synergetic system on Earth, otherwise known as the Gaia hypothesis [16].

Activities that promote this sense of oneness with all living

things and that promote self-awareness can deepen our connection to ourselves. Yoga is

one plausible avenue, seeing as the focus is on the breath, on energy and on awareness of

the self [17, 18] as the body moves through different postures (asanas). Not only does yoga

support us in connecting with ourselves and therefore connecting with nature, but sustained

practice also leads to increased wellbeing, increased self-acceptance, as well as decreases

in stress, anxiety and depression [19].



One way of achieving true balance in our lives and of accessing the highest version of

ourselves is through connecting with nature and through connecting with ourselves. Those of

us with a deep connection to nature may already see harming the environment as harming

the self. In order for us to heal, nature must heal; and in order for nature to heal, we must

heal as well. Because we are currently living through the climate crisis, it is more important

than ever to connect with nature so that we may protect the environment as well as our own

mental health.

Working on building self-awareness through yoga may serve as an ideal starting point on

reconnecting with the world around us and simultaneously achieving a deeper connection

with ourselves.



 

References

1. Vining, J., Merrick, M. S., & Price, E. A. (2008). The Distinction between Humans and

Nature: Human Perceptions of Connectedness to Nature and Elements of the Natural

and Unnatural. Human Ecology Review, 15(1), 1–11.


2. Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between

nature connectedness and happiness: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5,


3. Cheng, J. C.-H., & Monroe, M. C. (2012). Connection to Nature: Children’s Affective

Attitude Toward Nature. Environment and Behavior, 44(1), 31–49.


4. Hinds, J., & Sparks, P. (2008). Engaging with the natural environment: The role of

affective connection and identity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28(2),


5. Kaplan, S., & Talbot, J. F. (1983). Psychological Benefits of a Wilderness

Experience. In I. Altman & J. F. Wohlwill (Eds.), Behavior and the Natural

Environment (pp. 163–203). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-3539-

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6. Kellert, S. R. (1997). Kinship to mastery: Biophilia in human evolution and

development (pp. xvi, 256). Island Press.


7. Mayer, F. S., & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure

of individuals’ feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental

Psychology, 24(4), 503–515. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2004.10.001


8. Pritchard, A., Richardson, M., Sheffield, D., & McEwan, K. (2019). The Relationship

Between Nature Connectedness and Eudaimonic Well-Being: A Meta-analysis.

Journal of Happiness Studies, 21(3), 1145–1167. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-

019-00118-6


9. Richardson, M., Passmore, H.-A., Lumber, R., Thomas, R., & Hunt, A. (2021).

Moments, not minutes: The nature-wellbeing relationship. International Journal of

Wellbeing, 11(1), Article 1. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v11i1.1267


10. Tam, K.P. (2013). Dispositional empathy with nature. Journal of Environmental


11. Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2014). Happiness and Feeling Connected: The

Distinct Role of Nature Relatedness. Environment and Behavior, 46(1), 3–23.


12. Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004). Does life satisfaction moderate the effects of

stressful life events on psychopathological behavior during adolescence? School

Psychology Quarterly, 19(2), 93–105. https://doi.org/10.1521/scpq.19.2.93.33313


13. Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2011). Happiness is in our Nature:

Exploring Nature Relatedness as a Contributor to Subjective Well-Being. Journal of

Happiness Studies, 12(2), 303–322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-010-9197-7


14. Ryan, R. M., Weinstein, N., Bernstein, J., Brown, K. W., Mistretta, L., & Gagné, M.

(2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental

Psychology, 30(2), 159–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.10.009


15. Wolsko, C., & Lindberg, K. (2013). Experiencing Connection With Nature: The Matrix

of Psychological Well-Being, Mindfulness, and Outdoor Recreation. Ecopsychology,


16. Lovelock, J. E., & Margulis, L. (1974). Atmospheric homeostasis by & for the

biosphere: the Gaia hypothesis. Tellus, 26(1-2), 2-10.


17. Andrianov, A., Guerriero, E., & Ziabari, S. S. M. (2019, June). Cognitive Modeling of

Mindfulness Therapy: Effect of yoga on overcoming stress. In International

Symposium on Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence (pp. 79-86). Springer,

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18. Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to

increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49.


19. Lamb, T. (2001). Health benefits of yoga. Yoga world, 16, 6.

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