Grounded in nature

I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am prone to feeling overwhelmed and shutting down; however, this is the exact reason I have a mini-army of houseplants to lift my spirits. Even when I can’t give myself permission to walk the beach or find a trail, I can at least sit for 30 minutes in the morning to sip my coffee and stare off into the green space I have created in my home.

Can’t get outside? Indoor houseplants can provide a dose of nature’s health benefits, too. Photo by Coral Lozada

Let’s unpack all this; why would I need to give myself permission to do something that will benefit me in the long run? Well, I struggle with productivity. If I take even 10 minutes away from my work, I worry that I will fall behind. You know, the things that one worries about during a pandemic coupled with finishing a PhD. I mitigate this guilt with verbal permission reminding myself that I use those 10-30 minutes to get myself ready for the next task and ultimately, it will help me reach my goals.

This wasn’t always the way. There was a time when I could leave my house, hop on a bus and 15 minutes later be at the mouth of a river ready to start a three-hour hike. I would do this at least once a month, but for sure I was also at the beach seven days a week. Ah, my early and mid- 20’s were a beautiful time indeed.

It was filled with enough sand, sun, and saltwater to get me through even my most down times. I hold onto the memories of the hot sand and the cool waters and just how much I would huff and puff on those walks.

These days my hikes are shorter, more like quick walks that take me away from my desk to think through a problem. My outdoor green space looks a little different too; black mangrove, mudflats, and native Texas grasses common to the Coastal Bend. I said I needed green space for nature, but I’m not at the point in my mindfulness journey where I know all the names of the plants, yet! Now I get to sit on a bench and look out at all the birds that make use of the bay: spoonbills, ibises, and pelicans are some of the ones I can name.

Taking in the view of Oso Bay and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Photo by Nick Fernandez.

If you have not guessed yet, this practice is known as “walking meditation”. This type of meditation is all about being present in our surroundings, with focus not on our breathing but on our gait. Berkley has an amazing page that describes many aspects which I hadn’t even considered before. I can’t bring myself to make time to fully meditate, but something about moving while practicing mindfulness – and in my case, self-compassion – clicks with me. This is my time to work through issues or give myself fully to feeling the space around me. My co-blogger wrote about salting your soul and this is almost the same idea. You are greening your eyes, taking time to enjoy the space you do have access to in any way you can. We are not always fortunate enough to live by the sea or have access to rivers and lush green mountains, BUT we might have access to some plants, or birds, or a park. When productivity is our main goal of the day, it helps to ground ourselves in nature.

Author: Coral Marie Lozada Perez

Coral loves to travel, and when she visits a new special place, adds it to her tattoo collection. “I want a van. I want to travel. That’s all I want in life.” In the future, Coral plans to continue her work with coastal communities and fisheries. She has many ideas for where her career may take her, but mostly she wants to help people understand their place and importance as resource users and managers within their own communities.

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