How To Get In Touch With Nature (It's Easier Than You Probably Think!)

I decided to write this because I see a lot of people who want to get in touch with nature, but have really counterproductive and sometimes even self-destructive ideas of what this actually entails. So, I decided to write an article clearing up some of these misconceptions and tell you what you can actually do to get in touch with nature.

First uploaded: March 5, 2021

Table of Contents

First, let's talk about spiritual and self-help scams.

There's a lot of grifters who claim they can teach you how to get in touch with nature, yourself, and quite possibly even the divine, but what they actually do is condition you to be even more self-centered and closed off from reality than ever before. Their followers believe that they're becoming more enlightened and in tune, but what's happening in reality is that they're being sold a fake version of reality that feels really smart and deep.

(Sidenote, everything tends to feel deep and profound when your brain is flooded with happy hormones. That's why a new crush can feel cosmically important, or an exciting novel experience can feel spiritually transformative.)

Despite their bold claims, these scams don't give people anything that's really and truly useful; at least, not in the long run. They might claim they're going to help you with your emotions, but what they really do is teach you toxic positivity or spiritual bypassing.

They don't encourage things like community responsibility or service. Instead, they isolate you from other people. For example, a shady self-help leader might tell people that anyone who has doubts about them and their methods is toxic and negative, and therefore has to be cut out of your life. A multi-level marketing scheme might promise new members a loving and supportive community, but the reality is that making money in an MLM is next to impossible and these new members are all each other's competition, so ultimately they're not exactly incentivized to care about each other. A shady self-help group that claims it's going to teach you how to be "strong" might tell you to cut "weak" people out of your life and only associate with other "strong" people.

(Obviously there are valid reasons to cut people out of your life; EG, when someone repeatedly violates your boundaries, but this isn't that.)

Scams like these tend to push people into increasingly self-destructive behavior, telling followers that things will get better if they just keep going a little longer. They might be told to donate more, or buy more products, or give more effort; or be less selfish, inhibited, or cowardly.

They tell you that they're here to liberate you, to set you free from your inhibitions and fears. But they don't let you decide what liberation means for you. Instead, you find out that being "liberated" means doing exactly as you're told and thinking exactly what you're told to think, with no space to set boundaries or disagree in the slightest.

They might claim they're going to help you develop better morals, but they don't. They don't teach you how to differentiate between doing right and doing things to feel righteous. They don't teach you how to understand the difference between meaning well and doing well. They basically teach you that intentions are all that really matter, or that you'll always be doing the right thing as long as you follow their specific and simple code of conduct.

They might teach you to accept and internalize simple "truths" that are really just soothing platitudes and pretty lies that alienate you from the true, complex, and often very unpleasant nature of reality. They tell you that everything in the world is going according to divine plan, so you don't have to worry your little head about doing anything but taking care of yourself. Or they might tell you that civilization will crumble if people don't do things exactly their way.

These scams are often loaded with conspiracy theories. That's how their proponents explain why their ideas aren't more popular than they are, why they face opposition and challenge, and why things in general aren't going their way. Conspirituality - the blending of spirituality with conspiracy theory - is a major problem.

People like this will teach you to release your ego only because it allows them to subsume you into their own. They aren't teaching you to decenter yourself so you can truly take in and engage with the world around you, but rather so they can trap you in their own false version of reality. They tell you to open your mind, but not to make yourself receptive to seeing and experience the world for how it really is; rather, it's to make you open to their own ego-centered model of the universe. (And I must emphasize, conspiracy theories are very ego-centered, as they inevitably place believers at the center of the universe in some way; EG, by claiming they are the ultimate targets of a sinister plot spanning the entire globe and most of history.)

Being aware of these people and refusing to fall into their traps is vitally important, because they will do their best to keep you alienated, whether intentionally or not. So keep your eyes open and watch out for people trying to pull you into this kind of nonsense.

Getting in touch with nature: what it does and doesn't entail.

I find that a lot of people think that getting in touch with nature requires things like walking in the forest barefoot, following some kind of pagan or pagan-inspired spirituality, or eating organic and/or vegetarian food all the time. In fact, absolutely none of these things are actually required.

First of all, nature isn't just forests. Nature is dry deserts, scrub-covered steppes, and frozen Arctic tundra. Nature is weeds growing in abandoned lots and house sparrows nesting in the eaves of gas stations. Nature is weather and changing seasons. Nature is the ants in your kitchen and the mold growing in your fridge. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by nature. You couldn't get away from nature even if you wanted to.

Going barefoot outside can be fun, but like, you really want to make sure it's safe. If you're really in tune with nature, you're going to realize that going barefoot can be a pretty bad idea sometimes. Like, frost bite, insect stings, and wounds from thorns or trash are things that often have to be taken into consideration.

Your religion and spiritual views are pretty irrelevant. I know a lot of people think that Christianity is what separated people from nature, but it's just not that simple. If anything, imperialism and industrialization are far more alienating, because they engender a worldview where everything is seen as resources to service the needs and comfort of the empire. Really, any worldview that reduces large portions of humanity to workers and/or breeders, and reduces the vast majority of the world into resources for human use and comsumption is inherently alienating.

Exactly what you eat doesn't matter quite so much as being aware of where your food came from, how it was made, and what the ramifications of those things are. Many products and ingredients are produced in ways that are incredibly harmful to the environment, or rely on labor exploitation.

Getting in touch with nature doesn't require you to immediately make some kind of drastic change in your personal beliefs or lifestyles. It doesn't require you to buy anything. What it does require is getting into the habit of observing everything around you and noticing how things progress, change, interconnect, and interact.

It also means acknowledging that humans and human-created things are not fundamentally separate from nature, but are instead part of it. Everything to do with humans connects and interplays with other aspects of nature in many different and complicated ways. Sometimes those interactions are beneficial or neutral to other aspects of nature; sometimes they're detrimental and need to be stopped in order to to preserve or restore an equilibrium within the larger environment.

It must be understood that the fact that humans and human-made things can sometimes be destructive to other aspects of nature doesn't mean we're intrinsically separate from it. Nature destroys nature all the time; EG, volcanoes, avalanches, meteorites, whathaveyou. In fact, this idealized picture of nature as something that would exist in a serene, peaceful balance if not for our interference is simply another product of being alienated from nature.

What you can do to get in touch with nature.

Pay attention to the weather. Go outside and feel the weather on your skin - whether it's hot, cold, wet, dry, calm, or windy. Notice what you can and can't hear and smell in different weather conditions. Notice how different weather conditions make you feel.

Pay attention to and study the wildlife. Observe whatever kind of wildlife lives in your area where possible, even if it's just birds and insects. Research and learn about their species. Find out whether they're native or introduced.

Pay attention to and study the plant life. Take notice of all the plants around you, even if it's nothing more than weeds growing in the sidewalk or trees growing in public parks and or parking lots. Research them; find out if they're native or introduced.

Pay attention to how things change over the year. When do plants begin growing? When do they bloom? When do they go to seed? When do different animal species appear or disappear?

Study the geology. Find out what kind of rocks are common to your area. Find out how they were formed. Research what kind of geological forces made the place you live how it is today.

Pay attention to people. Watch them interact. Observe what they say, how they express their emotions.

Pay attention to yourself. Observe your emotions. Observe how you feel in response to different things. Observe how you might feel differently about them depending on your mood or how your day or week has gone.

Stop alienating yourself from your feelings. Modern society often teaches us to think of our emotions and impulses as something strange or other by framing them as "the inner animal" or somesuch. In reality, there is no "inner animal." There is only you, the human animal. This isn't to say that you should act on everything you feel, but rather that you should stop thinking of your feelings as something that's fundamentally separate from your "real" self.

Engage with media from diverse creators. Decentering yourself and allowing yourself to experience things from another perspective is a powerful way to become more aware of and overcome one's personal biases.

Learn how to fact check. Bad information alienates you from reality and nature. Learn more about fact checking here, here, and here.

More useful things to know.

Getting in touch with nature is a lot easier when you have the right mindset, so here's some things to work into your mind:

There is no such thing as an objective viewpoint. Everyone - literally everyone - has limits to their experience and knowledge that biases their perspectives. Different people have different emotional reactions to things based on prior experiences, how they were taught, and their own personal neurochemistry. If there's any way to get anything close to an objective viewpoint, it's most likely through the wisdom of crowds - taking in data from a large number of people, preferably from diverse sources so as to get as a wide variety of perspectives.

Your beliefs and feelings affect your perceptions. Whether you perceive something "good" or "bad" depends largely on your feelings and beliefs at the moment. (Try this experiment: pick a movie, and watch it every so often. Watch it when you're in different moods, after you've learned more about the world, or simply after a number of years. Observe how your perceptions of the plot and characters change.)

The world is full of many things you've never seen or heard of. Whether it's living organisms, rocks, galaxies, mythologies, philosophies, books, art, or whatnot, there are many, many things out there you don't know about. People can have mental landscapes unlike anything you've imagined before, and be entirely sane.

Things can be important whether or not they personally benefit or interest you. The sea vent at the bottom of the ocean floor may not have any immediate benefit to your life, but it's very important to the creatures that rely on its heat. Mosquitoes might make you uncomfortable, but many creatures rely on them for food. A story you found boring may have given someone else hope and inspiration.

Nothing is truly permanent or static. Everything is changing. Everything is changing and evolving. Plants grow and die. Buildings are constructed, used, repaired, and eventually torn down or abandoned and left to decay. Mountains slowly rise and erode. Continents shift. Your own priorities and opinions have changed over the years.

Human nature produces social constructs, but no social construct is inherently permanent or unchangeable. Law, economics, customs, and ethics are all examples of social constructs. Although many of us see them as things that simply are and cannot be changed, they're all a matter of societal habit rather than inflexible forces of nature.

Everything that happens is produced by a series of complex interactions and reactions. Things don't just happen for no reason at all. Everything that happens is the result of many forces interacting and reacting with each other. And you are part of the vast interacting network of reality, whether you recognize it or not.

Nothing exists in a vacuum; everything affects and is affected by something else. And through this, everything is ultimately connected to each other. Everything is so connected that in the 15th century, blue glass beads from Venice were carried to Alaska via trade networking.

"Normal" is a social construct. We often tend to assume that whatever we grow up with is what constitutes the normal and default, and perceive everything else as a variation on it, or an addition upon it. The thing is, there is no such thing as a "normal" or "default" culture. What's "normal" is simply a social construct defined by those with the most power and influence within a society, and they rarely care about the perspectives and insights of those who are marginalized as much as they should.

I hope this article helps you! If you like it, please share it with your friends, on social media, etc.! Also, please consider supporting me on Patreon. I'm disabled and don't have many ways to support myself, so anything helps me a lot.

And you might also take a look at:

How To Increase Your Self-Awareness & Grow As A Person
How To Sharpen Your Intuition
How To Exercise & Strengthen Your Empathy
Ways To Deal With Negative Emotions
7 Ways To Make Yourself A Happier Person
5 More Ways To Make Yourself A Happier Person

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