Mother Nature expresses emotion in exactly the right ways to be the healthiest she can be. She expresses it with non-judgement and non-attachment. By following nature’s example, we too can create more balance in our lives.Though not easy to grasp at first, nature is, in fact, very emotional. Traditional systems of medicine, such as Classical Five Element Chinese Medicine, describe everything in nature as having chi or life force energy. This energy is in constant transformation, cycling through different emotions or feelings that are most obvious in the seasons.Each season has an emotional quality about it that distinguishes it from another. Wouldn’t you agree that summer and winter have distinct feelings about them? When you go outside today, how do you know what season it is? You know because the environment communicates its emotional tone to you.
Here in Ontario, Canada, where I live, summer days are often hot and sunny. Playful, easy-going, joyful, friendly, full of energy and passion are ways to describe summer. It’s the time when the growth of plants are in full swing, inviting the birds and the bees to enjoy the sweet nectar of their fragrant, colourful flowers. The animals are out sunbathing, hunting for food and making sure that their young ones learn the ropes of living a successful life. Summers are productive and humming with activity.
Winter days, on the other hand, are often crisp and cold here. The feelings could be described as more introverted and withdrawn. The trees are bare and the landscape is sleeping, covered with a blanket of brilliant white snow. The plants and animals are in hibernation. It’s important to slow down in this season so that energy reserves don’t run out when food is less abundant. Winter provides a good opportunity for seeds to get the time and rest they need to germinate when winter is over and the spring rains fall.
Emotional expression sustains life
The expression of summer, winter, and all of the seasons in between are an important way in which the environment sustains itself. Without the energy of the summer, there would not be enough food produced to last throughout the winter. And without the rest in the winter, burn-out would occur and we’d soon be too tired to do anything at all.
There is neither beginning nor end, neither good nor bad—just a cycle of necessary emotions realised through the seasons that bring our environment into healthy balance and expression.
In this way, nature teaches us how to bring forth our emotions appropriately. Emotions occur unapologetically because it would be unhealthy to hide or hold back an expression of the season. When there is excess moisture in the air, it calls for rain. There’s no holding back. If it didn’t rain when it needed to, the landscape would suffer. The ground would not receive enough water to nourish the plants and rivers. Because nature knows what she needs to express and then expresses it, we benefit since we rely on her for our needs.
People are less willing to express emotion
And yet people suppress their emotions. Have you ever felt angry but held back its expression because you thought it was wrong? Have you ever felt like crying but stopped yourself because you didn’t want to be seen as weak? We do this all the time. We judge our emotions and then hide them. It’s not our fault though. We were brought up to believe that uncomfortable emotions such as anger and sadness are bad. But these labels don’t serve us well. After all, expressed appropriately, anger is an important way to draw boundaries; and sadness helps us to feel compassion and empathy.
Repressed emotion can build and show up inappropriately later as an over-the-top blow up or a mental or physical illness. The person becomes unbalanced because the necessary energy that is required to feed an authentic part of him or her is not being carried forth. Ultimately, their authentic self is not being expressed and their relationship with themselves and others suffer.
People are afraid that an ‘undesirable’ emotion makes them less loveable, so they force themselves to stop feeling it, to stop acknowledging that it’s there. But perhaps people would act differently if they remember that the essence of any landscape remains its same beautiful self no matter what emotion it’s expressing. Winter, summer, spring or autumn – each has its own unique beauty and purpose of giving the environment what’s necessary. Just like all seasons are useful, so are all emotions. There’s no need to be judgemental about what comes up. The emotion is just signalling what’s happening at the moment, what season it is. It’s all for the sake of re-balancing the system which is in constant flux.
Sometimes people suppress their emotion because it’s too painful. They might need to grieve the loss of a loved one but can’t bear to feel the sadness. Though I am not an expert at expressing this myself, it once helped me to understand that I was not the sadness itself. I could detach myself from it even though I was feeling it. Though I felt overwhelmed by it, I imagined that it was a wind that would keep knocking at my door until I opened it so the feeling could pass through and eventually die down.
Eventually it did.
How to let your emotions flow naturally
Spending time in nature is a safe way to let ourselves acknowledge and feel emotion without judgement. Maybe it’s because Mother Nature is so expressive herself, we can’t help but feel and be moved by her.
Journaling in the midst of nature is a good way to get your emotions flowing. Try writing in your journal non-stop for 10 minutes. Write down whatever comes up for you in that moment with no judgement. After 10 minutes of writing, take a walk in nature for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process three times, taking turns to write and walk for a total of one hour.
Mother Nature is sympathetic and gives us nurturance as we express our emotions. When we are feeling down, our spirits are uplifted when we see a lovely flower. This is nature telling us “It’s okay, you’re still loved”. Our feelings are validated in nature and we feel safe to be honest with ourselves.
Expressing emotion is natural and healthy. Especially if we express it with non-judgement and then let it go when it’s done. There’s no feeling shame or regret when a tree needs to drop its leaves. The falling leaves are an expression of needed release, and the earth beneath it graciously receives it. And from the nourished earth a beautiful flower is able to grow, expressing its authentic self and beauty in the world for all to see with no apologies.
Lea Tran is a horticultural therapist and integrative natural healer. She helps people benefit from the healing power of plants. Her articles on how to connect with nature for wellbeing can be found here: www.gardentherapynotes.com
This was first published in the June 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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