Did You Know? with Mike Freidlin
Nature's Guidance

As so eloquently stated by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep." Nature has that unique, yet simple capacity to make us feel good, and, when  necessary, to heal. Whether our love and desire of nature is due to its beauty, its element of  peace and tranquility, or because we have evolved with it and within it (the biophilia  hypothesis), the joy we receive from our connection with nature is wonderfully  immeasurable. Rivers, mountains, meadows, canyons, trees, flowers, leaves, birds, or  butterflies...spending time in nature, simply put, makes us happier, makes us whole. Why? 

We often tend to notice while surrounded by nature, we become focused on what is actually around us. We forget daily stresses and find relief from those things in life which  oppress us, belittle us, and stigmatize us. Nature teaches us that all is well in the world regardless of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Everything is beautiful! "Within a single clump of yellow flowers, you may see a pink flower and realize that it's a mutation. In nature, we don't say how wrong, how different, or how inferior...we say, How beautiful." 

Our perception of time is also impacted by our journeys into the natural world. We abandon the prison of hours, minutes, and seconds and adopt "nature's clock." Nature is slow and patient. One cannot help but adapt to this natural rhythm within the confines of a forest, meadow, or beside a mountain lake. 

Nature allows us to free ourselves from the material world of overconsumption in which we "thrive." More, more, more...becomes harmony and balance. Plants react to the  amount of nutrients available without the need for excessively storing and stockpiling. Animals use what food is available without expectations that their food will simply appear exponentially - as we do with so many of our possessions. 

Nature also allows us to surrender our concepts of comfort and control. We return to reality. We cannot control the rain, the temperature, the setting sun, or the steepness of a mountain trail. With this surrender comes peace, sanity, and relief. We realize the benefits of having such little control, achieving that simple, pleasurable feeling of just "being alive." 

Nature instills calmness, stillness, and silence. Car horns, alarms, machinery, and sirens morph into birds with songs, crickets, frogs, and raindrops on leafy trees. Need we say Nature offers us the epitome of beauty and respect. A flower, a tree, a bird...a meadow of flowers, a forest, or a flock of birds...all ready for the taking. A mighty oak reaches for the sun and has been doing so for ages. Imagine the stories that oak could share, what it has seen, how many birds called this oak home, how many insects have enjoyed the pollen of its flowers, how many animals have found shelter in its branches, and how many thousands of acorns have given food to ground critters, or fertilized the soil beneath it, or grew to become the mighty oak's offspring...and begin the cycle anew.

Lastly, and by no means least, whatever and however you define the Divine, nature allows us that path inward for understanding the wisdom and guidance helpful in bringing us  closer to our own spirit. If allowed, nature becomes a dear friend, a teacher, a spiritual guide. Nature allows us knowledge not easily found elsewhere. It is as if nature is our "university" where we go to learn, a "library" where so much knowledge is found, a "mall" because everything we need is right there, a "pharmacy" as it is a place to heal, and as a "church" being a place to fuel the spirit. 

Emerson's advice to touch the surface of nature and find the depths of beauty brings to mind another quote from John Muir, "The mountains are calling and I must go."

"Did You Know?" quiz: August

There are more than 3 trillion trees in the world  according to The Journal Of Nature. Which country holds the claim to fame as having the
most trees, with an estimated 642 billion?

a. The United States

b. Canada

c. Russia

d. Brazil

Last month's "Did You Know?" answer 

More than half (70%) of the world's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton photosynthesis in the world's oceans. The other 30% of the world's oxygen is produced almost entirely in:

a. Tropical rainforests

b. Boreal forests

c. Meadows, plains, and savannas

d. Temperate forests

The answer is a. Tropical rainforests with about 20% coming from the Amazon rainforest

Until next month,
About Mike
Mike Freidlin is a naturalist, athlete, vegan animal rights activist, and environmental science educator with 35 years of teaching experience. In his role as middle and high school science teacher for the Abington 
Heights, Pennsylvania school district, Mike acted as the Middle and High School Ecology Club Advisor. He led more than 700 student members of  the Tropical Rainforest Ecology Club on trips to such destinations as  Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, where they learned about rainforest  protection, the rights and concerns of animals and indigenous communities,  and students' roles and responsibilities as global citizens. Mike has served on the Board of Directors for Lackawanna Audubon Society and Save The Rainforest.

Mike generously shares his knowledge and expertise with the sanctuary and our supporters for all of us to benefit from the power of connecting more deeply with our planet. Enjoy!
Indraloka Animal Sanctuary  | Mehoopany, PA | www.indraloka.org

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