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The wisdom of nature

Sunset in the North York Moors ©VisitBritainVisitEnglandSunset in the North York Moors ©VisitBritainVisitEngland

For many of us, we have a vague sense that interacting with the natural world can have a positive impact on our mental health, though we aren’t always aware of how this actually works. One answer offered by the School of Life declares that ‘nature is a kind of book’, from which we can find wisdom, consolation and serenity.

Take, for example, the dramatic heather moorland that stretches over the North York Moors. Such spaces, particularly during the winter months, feel wild and empty and yet vast expanses of heather remind us that wildlife can survive and thrive in such landscapes.

As you look over the moorland, you will notice how the heather plants grow together, forming a thick, bushy carpet. This helps the plant survive strong winds. Look a little closer and you will also notice the heather’s tiny, narrow leaves shaped like the needles on a Christmas tree. This stops the plant from losing too much water as the winds blow across the moorland.

Port Mulgarve, Cleveland Way by Ceri Oakes

When looked at through our own lives, this reminds us of our need to remain resilient. For there are times we too feel exposed to the pressures of work or home life and, in such moments, maybe is it worth remembering how we once stood out upon the moorland, our face pressed against the winds. And like heather, maybe we too could find our own ways to endure the turbulent winds.

We often work under the assumption that we acquire wisdom through rigorous study of philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle and yet there is so much that we can learn through nature, so much that can offer consolation and nourishment.

Such a simple idea can also be applied to forests within the National Park. When it is persistently hot, we cannot help but want to seek shelter and shade. In such moments we can be naturally drawn to woodlands. When inside they offer relief from the relentless sun allowing us to drift between leafy shadows and the delicate sounds of birds.

Woodland near Boggle Hole ©VisitBritain/Melody Thornton

These introverted environments allow us the space we need to reflect on our own lives, something we might otherwise struggle to do whilst at home surrounded by our families or exposed to a glaring sun. They can offer the necessary space we need to grow, change, or make a vital decision.

If we wish to benefit more from our experiences and interactions of nature, it is worthwhile reflecting on such ideas. At a time where we largely see ourselves and nature as being separate it is comforting to think how characteristics within the natural world are also found within us.

A more thoughtful approach to nature also makes us realise that nature not only provides the air we breathe or the food we eat, it provides the fuel we need to live more fulfilling and more serene lives.