Lessons from Nature



It is common these days to hear that nature is healing, rejuvenating, balancing and grounding. Science has also confirmed these finding. It is wonderful how great writers like Hermann Hesse can express these dry scientific facts into a prose with which we can relate. I was reading a book “An Education in Happiness – The lessons of Hesse and Tagore by Flavia Arzeni. She describes how Hesse loved nature and how it spoke to him. He saw for example, a solitary tree as a warrior who fought his battles alone. He writes…” The world rustles in their branches, their roots sink into the infinite and yet are not lost in it, but pursue with all their strength a single aim – to realize the law that is innate in them; to bring their form to perfection; to represent themselves.”




At times we all lose our way trying to find ourselves, to represent ourselves with our own perfection. We often look outwards for help from others or go on a journey in search of ourselves. Hesse is reminded by the tree that there is no need for this because the answers are within us, the salvation doesn’t come from others but from ourselves; the homeland is not in some place in the world, but within ourselves. When Hesse feels despair and doesn’t know which direction to go, the tree transmits its lesson to him in this way… “Hush, now! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult!”

Tree buddha

Tree buddha (Photo credit: @Doug88888)



Hesse didn’t believe in adapting ourselves to external rules that we do not share; he thought there is no point in looking for short cuts or laboring under the illusion that others can make our journey for us. He said “say yes to one’s self, one’s own isolation, one’s own feeling, and one’s own destiny.”


He loved clouds because they were clouds and because of the thoughts they give rise to. He loved water because it was water and because he saw in it his own destiny. He loved trees and plants because they helped him live and survive. He loved fire because from the ashes mixed with earth, earth is reborn. Air, water, earth, and fire were his teachers.


This summer, take a contemplative walk in nature and listen to the lessons nature may have for you!or just enjoy and say yes to life.





The strength of your soil is crucial if you are to stay healthy and live a long life.


When the trees in our yard or the houseplants in the house are not doing well, the leaves dry, turn brown and fall off. When we stop to wonder what the cause might be, our usual response is to check the soil, make sure there is right amount of moisture in the soil, check its getting the right amount of exposure to light and we may even provide the proper plant food. After we checked and corrected the conditions for the plants they usually thrive.


Humans are not that different. They too need the right conditions to thrive. Yet when we are not doing well our immediate impulse is to take a pill for the problem. It would be nice if we were to ask the question, “I’m I living under the right conditions?” Is the moisture of my soil ok, have I got enough light, I’m I eating the right food, I’m I living in the right environment etc. If we don’t provide the right conditions for ourselves its unlikely we will ever feel our optimal best. Its only in the recent years we are beginning to see the strong link between the ‘conditions we are under’ and whether a good or bad genes that’s going to get turned on; under optimal conditions for example, lot of the cancer genes get turned off. Under horrible conditions lot of the cancer genes get turned on. Just as for the plants, we need to make sure we are living under optimal conditions.


So what are the right conditions? What strengthens our soil? Here is the basic list: –

1.Eat the right food.


3.Get enough sleep

4.Live in the right community.

5.Orientation of having the glass half full not empty.

6.Connect with your spirituality.

7.Choose your parents wisely!!!!! …. Just kidding. …They do provide us with the genes we carry and the early environment, both of which are important, as we will see in the future posts.

I have covered some of these before but its no harm in reviewing them again in the up coming posts.

You may also want to review the past posts too.



Planting Seeds in Our Minds – Spring Time

Its spring time and we may be excited about planting seeds in our gardens. We are likely to be mindful about what seeds we saw and water, because it’s the fruits of theses seeds that we will enjoy; and want others to enjoy too. We may even be able to imagine the future and see ourselves, our friends and family enjoying the  harvest.

Nguyen Anh-Huong, a Buddhist Monk, uses the garden as a metaphor for the mind and says…

“…Our mind is a field in which every kind of seed is sawn; seeds of compassion, joy and hope; seeds of sorrow, fear and despair. Everyday our thoughts, words and our deeds plant new seeds in the field of our consciousness and what these seeds generate becomes the substance of our life. There are both wholesome and unwholesome seeds in our mind field sawn by ourselves, our parents , our school,  our ancestors and our society. If you plant wheat, wheat will grow. If you act in wholesome way you will be happy. If you act in unwholesome way you will water seeds of craving, anger and violence in yourself and others. The practice of mindfulness helps us identify all of the seeds in our consciousness and with that knowledge we can choose to water  only the ones that are most beneficial. As we cultivate seeds of joy and transform seeds of suffering in ourselves, understanding, love, compassion and gratitude will flower.”

Spring Time Cherry Blossom in Washington DC on a Rainy Day.

Three days of intense learning can be exhilarating but can also leave you feeling little depleted of energy. I finally had three-hour window to go and see the famous cherry blossoms in Washington DC before my next learning session. I quickly got my stuff together but when I came out it was cloudy and the rain pouring down. The power of suggestion must have worked on me because I heard people say on numerous occasions how beautiful the flowers were; so even though it was raining, my camera was going to get wet, I had no rain gear, I decided to go. I took the metro and got off at the Smithsonian Station and was faced with sea of people. There was a very loud festival going on.

I quickly got away from the loud noise, the rain continued. After only a short walk I was treated to a feast for the eyes. The rumours were right the flowers were beautiful, even on a rainy, cloudy day. I slowed myself down by telling myself …” I have all the time I need, I have nowhere to go and nothing to do…just enjoy.”  And I did !

In 1912, an incredible gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was bestowed on Washington, DC by Tokyo, Japan. Rooted strongly and surviving outside elements, the trees have withstood the test of time – and nearly a century later, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is having an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime celebration from March 20- April 27, 2012.

Health and Nature.

I talked about me going for a walk everyday to connect with nature and how good I feel afterwards. Being in Costa Rica with the abundance of nature around me I never felt better. I know that’s partly because I am on holidays and have no responsibility. My focus has been on myself,…. hard job but someone has to do it!

There is a lot of evidence how important nature can be in  prevention of health problems. For those that don’t get the time to connect with nature, here is a wonderful video you can enjoy. It may even motivate you to get out into the wilds of Canada.

Here is some of the evidence for the effects of nature on health. Wilson has put forward a very strong argument about the health benefits of nature over two decades (Wilson, 1984Wilson, 2001). His ‘biophilia hypothesis’ i.e. ‘the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms’ spawned research which suggested that our relationships with nature are a fundamental component of building and sustaining good health (Wilson, 1984Heerwagen and Orians, 1993Suzuki, 1997Frumkin, 2001).

My last post from Costa Rica, homeward bound early tomorrow morning. See you soon.



The journey begins for real health and happiness.

Where does one begin and start the journey towards real health and happiness? I think the journey needs to start with the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clean environment and water.  Without these one would just struggle to survive and real health and happiness will be just a dream. In Canada we are blessed and most people have these basic needs met.

When the survival is ensured we need to be free of disease and this is what I do in my office most days, try to keep my patients free of disease. I have been thinking for a while that just being free of disease is nowhere near the optimal health and happiness we are capable.

“Optimal health and happiness”, what exactly is it ?  It is probably best to start by stating what it is not.  Optimal health and happiness is not having a fantastic muscular body free of disease and having a smile on your face all the time, rather it is something to do with having enough energy, being able to do things you love without pain or discomfort, being able to make lasting relationships, being able to love and be loved, being able to be free of irrational fears.  It is being content, being able to negotiate through life ethically, compassionately and with ease, it is eating the right foods, it is about keeping active and exercising, it is to be in the right company that will nourish your soul, it is about having right thoughts, it about seeing reality as it is, its about making commitments, its about having good habits, its about being grateful, its about helping, its about accepting help, its about having good concentration, its about being able to see and live with your own thoughts, its about touching and holding your loved ones, its about appreciating nature and beauty , its about feeling beautiful inside even when on the outside things are tough, its about having a beautiful mind, its about connecting , its about being curious, its about listening to your heart and not just your brain, its about being comfortable alone by yourself, its about having enough rest , its about protecting yourself from information overload and noise, it about having spiritual life , its about having faith and about much more..

It seems that the happiness doesn’t come from external goods but rather it is cultivated over lifetime. To look for happiness outside oneself is a useless endeavor. We will talk more about this in the future posts.

Quotes without comment: –

“ We do not acquire or preserve virtue by the help of external goods, but external goods by the help of virtue.”

Aristtotle, Politics, Bk. V11, Ch.1  (4th cent. B.C. )

If you are in good emotional health, you should be able to respond appropriately to whatever situations you encounter: to feel appropriately happy about good forture and appropriately sad about bad, to be able to feel appropriately angry or frustrated about the state of the world and the annoying behavior of others and to let go of these feeling once you’ve acknowledged them. It is important to remember that our moods are supposed to vary through both the positive and the negative regions of the emotional spectrum………..It is near the balance point that you will find resilience, contentment, comfort, and serenity.”

Andrew Weil MD, Spontaneous Happiness  Ch.1 page 19 and 21

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