Awe in Nature

There is infinite awe to be experienced in nature and the wide open spaces of the outdoors.

Helen Lewis, Picots Farm

Season 2 of the Outdoors is my Therapy Podcast

The Outdoors is my Therapy podcast is back for Season 2 and in each episode you’ll get to meet one of my friends who’ll share what inspires them about the outdoors. Each episode is just a few minutes long, like a little snack of information and inspiration that feeds your mind and your heart and reconnects you with the therapeutic benefits of the outdoor world.

This is the transcript from the latest episode with my friend Helen Lewis from Picots Farm on the Southern Downs in southern Queensland.

Awe in Nature with Helen Lewis

Kathryn: How many times have you experienced a sense of awe in nature? You know that feeling of immense respect combined with curiosity and wonder when you’ve noticed something in nature. Perhaps it’s something that you’ve seen or you’ve heard, or you’ve touched, or you’ve smelt, or perhaps you’ve tasted it. And how often have you kept that feeling close to your heart as you’ve gone about the rest of your day or cherished the memory of it in the years afterwards? Experiencing awe in nature can connect you to the greater world around you. Some people speak of awe as a spiritual experience that helps them to transcend challenges in life and raise their sense of wellbeing. There are many factors that contribute to that experience of awe, and each of us will find different things awe-inspiring: sunrises and sunsets, bird song, the desert sands, the touch of the breeze, waves in the ocean, microscopic creatures, gigantic animals, ancient trees, birth, death, dew drops and more. The close association between mental health and that experience of awe has been documented in many scientific studies and incredibly, when you experience awe, changes take place in your brain and your behaviours change too. You feel calmer and you feel more connected to the good stuff in life. When it comes to awe, Julia Baird, an Australian bestselling author wrote a book called Phosphorescence with the subtitle On Awe Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark. In her book, Julia writes of awe “…[that] it seems increasingly vital that we deliberately seek such experiences whenever we can. The good news is that they are very often all around us in every corner of nature.” And by the way, Julia has a TEDx talk on the same topic, which I’ll link in the show notes. In today’s episode, you’ll hear from my friend Helen Lewis, as she speaks about awe as well. Helen lives on a farm near Warwick in southern Queensland where her lifestyle is intimately connected with the outdoors. You’ll hear Helen share her sense of awe and her wonder about the natural world around her, the changes that she sees day to day and season to season, and the special spaces and the experiences that inspire her. Meet my friend Helen.
Helen, what inspires you about nature?

Helen: Well, being on the farm, I think I’m in awe of nature. I think it’s just quite incredible how it functions and the growth. I definitely think, coming out of the drought and the enormous response we got so quickly, was very telling, of yes, our management, but also just how, um, how quickly nature wants to regrow and rejuvenate itself, I guess, and, and um, responds to the right conditions. I guess one of the things I love is in summer when we’ve got dewy mornings and going out really early and just seeing all the spiders webs and just the intricacy. And we were actually had a spider build a, um, web on our veranda and between the posts and put so much effort into it. And then we had a huge amounts of wind and rain and just gone in an instant and then sure enough, next day, she’s back at it, doing it again. And look just the amount of time and effort that they put into those spider webs and just seeing the spiders webs with dew, you know that things are functioning if we’ve got so many spiders webs and took a photo of there’s just like hundreds of them within an acre, you know, like just everywhere on all the grass and everything. And it’s just magic.

Kathryn: Do you have a favorite place or space in nature?

Helen: Yes, I do. Down on the um, on Greymare Creek on our place, um, there’s all these old river gums and the green grass, and old logs. And, even when it’s dry, it’s just this lovely place with a lovely, feeling. And then when it’s got water in it it’s even obviously more majestic, but, yeah, I love, I love going down there and, just having a look and just seeing these old trees, and the bark on the trees and the patterns of the bark and, uh, and just the location of the trees. They’re very grand in the landscape. It’s a beautiful spot.

Kathryn: Thanks for tuning in to the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast. We hope you feel inspired to connect with the outdoors no matter how big or small your adventures might be. If you’re looking for more inspiration or you’d like to connect with others in the Outdoors is my Therapy community, check the show notes for all the links.

Contact Helen Lewis at Picots Farm

The power of feeling small: how awe and wonder sustain us | Julia Baird | TEDxSydney

Phosphorescence: On Awe Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird

Contact Kathryn via her website

Grab your free Guide to a Perfect Nature Escape Day when you subscribe to the Grounded Inspiration newsletter (limited time)

Join the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group

“Your Personal Day of Retreat: A guide to planning self-care and stress management that really works” e-book 

You can listen to the “Awe in Nature” episode here:

Listen to Helen Lewis talk about decision-making tools in the Speak Out Loud: Stories of Strength podcast:

Pause, reflect and reset: find the right balance for you

Do you know when it’s time for you to pause, reflect and re-set? What signs do you watch for? And HOW do you pause, reflect and re-set?

Pushing the pause button on ‘doing’

After months of squishing extra work into my life, I was really looking forward to having ‘downtime’ over the Christmas / New Year break. I could sense the momentum I’d been enjoying since Easter was gradually dragging to a halt and ‘all the things’ of life felt like they were piling on top of me. Anyone else felt that way?

It can be tricky to rein it all in, and I certainly felt that too when I finished up work for the year. Still racing, we packed up for a road trip to visit family and managed to fill every single moment of our travels with activity and socialising. Then whoosh we were back home again unpacking, cleaning up and repacking for another family visit in a different direction. We also went bushwalking, mountain bike riding and caught up with jobs around home, sadly neglected in the recent fullness of life, yet that’s what holidays are for, right? Lots of ‘doing’ to catch up on ‘all the things’ that have been getting on top of you during the year? Yes? No?

I don’t know what answer is right for you, but I do know that the important thing is to take a moment now and then to settle in to your ‘being’ self. To pause, reflect and then re-set if you need to.

Time to reflect, re-set and simply ‘be’

After a week and a half of ‘doing’, I stepped into my ‘being’ self and I’m now celebrating and protecting these moments of pause that I’ve also been yearning for.

When you pause long enough, you feel your heart beating in your chest. You hear the voices in your head and you sense what your gut is saying. You listen in to what it is you need right now. You learn to know the difference between between your inner knowing and the external voices and pressures that shape so much of your life. You reflect and have the opportunity to re-set what’s not working so well.

Reflective questions to ask yourself

When you take a moment to pause and reflect, you can ask yourself:

  • What in my life is working well for me?
  • What is not working so well?
  • What does my body, mind and spirit need?
  • What can I do differently so that I nurture myself whilst also nurturing others and the world around me?

Re-set any time you need it

These reflections always highlight any areas that will benefit from my compassion and attention. As someone who rejects “new year, new you” promises, I encourage you to take a moment of pause to reflect and re-set any time. Do it for yourself. No reason needed. Just because.

E-BOOK: Your Personal Day of Retreatplan your own retreat

Would you like a clear, structured and detailed guide to help you create a whole day of retreat for yourself? A day to push the pause button, reflect and re-set your balance in life?

“Your Personal Day of Retreat: A guide to planning self-care and stress management that really works” e-book is available now for immediate download as a PDF. At just US$12 you’ll have a guide for life. Your life.

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Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

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