Find Your Centre: 5 Ways Nature Can Ground You

June 18, 2024

Find Your Centre: 5 Ways Nature Can Ground You

When Cohen Bradley was a kid, he stood on the deck of his father’s fishing boat off the west coast of Haida Gwaii, witnessing towering swells of a tumultuous sea rise higher and higher. “They’re as big as mountains,” he thought.    

A particularly large swell approached, and he feared it would engulf them.   

He looked to his father, who was calm. So, Cohen remained calm too. "But inside, I was thinking, ‘How are we even able to be out here?’”  

You might assume that this experience at such a young age would scare one away.   

But today, as Director of Indigenous Initiatives at BC Parks Foundation, Cohen offers a different perspective.  

“In grade school, I remember learning how churches were built with these huge proportions in order to humble humans. To remind them that they’re one small part of something grander. That's the feeling I get when I’m in nature."  

Inspired by this feeling, Cohen has identified five simple practices to help you ground yourself in the beauty of BC’s natural environments.

1) A Drop in the Ocean  

At least once a month, Cohen goes to into the ocean and dips himself three times, a trinity of submersions that pays recognition to his past, present, and future.  

“I need to recognize that, right now, if I’m truly appreciative of this moment, then I must be appreciative of all the things—the hard lessons and the big victories—that led me here. And then when I’m fully present in the moment, I can look ahead, and cleanse my path as I move forward.” 

2) Second Nature 

At least twice a week, Cohen practices intentional mindfulness while outdoors. 

“So often, we feel like we're not doing enough. We think ‘I should be doing this, or I shouldn't be doing that.’ But if you go out into nature with the intention that you’re out there for the very purpose of grounding yourself and connecting, then you can recognize the immense value of doing so in your day-to-day.” 

3) Come to Your Senses 

While in nature, Cohen practices a third technique that he attributes to Candace Campo, the Shíshálh owner of Talaysay Tours. Taking a recent walk together, she shared how insulated we are from nature even when we’re in nature.  

“I wear shoes to protect my feet,” Cohen says. “I dodge branches to protect my face. Maybe I smell things as I pass them, but not on purpose. But if, for example, I pick a berry and eat it, or I stop to smell the flowers in bloom, or I feel the bark of a cedar tree, I find it easier to stay in the moment. To recognize the abundance that's around you is to recognize everything that it’s taken for you to arrive in that moment. There's no worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. There’s just a sense of being fully present.”

4) Giving Thanks 

Cohen says gratitude can happen more easily in nature, among the space and quiet opportunity to reflect, senses fully engaged. 

"Maybe you’re grateful for the fact that your legs can carry you. Or that you have friends and family who love you. Or for the freedom to express yourself creatively. When you're trapped in your mind, or you’re vibrating out-of-pace with your natural flow, when you just feel unrooted, thinking about a wonderful thing in your life is an important piece of grounding.” 

5) Make Yourself at Home 

At least twice a year, Cohen goes home.  

“As a Haida person, my culture, my community, and where I'm from is highly ingrained in my understanding of myself. And so when I'm removed from that place for too long, it degrades my ability to be whole or fully at peace. My home is a piece of me that always exists and is re-animated when I'm there.” 

And if you can’t go home?  

“Nature will give you a sense of belonging. It brings us present to the fact that we’re animals and that we’re part of the whole food chain. There's a sense of community when you see the whales, when you see the birds, when you see the bears. When you know your place within it all, nature embraces you. It only bucks you when you try to be dominant. When you don't recognize your human limitations, and you try and win against a hurricane or master the seas. No matter how expert you are, you're still a small piece of it.  

You're still carried in the hands of something larger than yourself.”

Connect With Nature

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