In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever to connect to nature. In big and small ways, incidental and planned – connecting to nature any which way derives many health benefits and counterbalances to modern lifestyles.
One central transformative benefit of immersing in nature is the opportunity to feel a sense of awe, clarity, and wonder, of feeling part of something beautiful that is greater than ourselves. We can experience this any and every day, in pockets and corridors of nature in cities for example; and certainly can come from bigger adventures in the great outdoors where we can feel truly alive, have memorable moments and encounter what is known as “peak experiences”. These generally short-lived moments of intense joy, beauty, love, or awe can occur spontaneously or be triggered by specific stimuli such as nature, art or music; or with the help of specific ways of being such as how we can find ourselves in meditation – and can have a long-lasting effect.
Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, best-known for his hierarchy of needs, described peak experiences in 1964 as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.” They are an altered state of consciousness, characterised by euphoria, often achieved by self-actualising individuals.
You cannot simply force peak experiences to come to you, rather, you must be open and willing to experience them whenever they arise. We can create opportunities for these experiences to show themselves, and be receptive to the moments in which they happen. One way is by actively stepping out into what is all around us. Go for a walk in a beautiful national park, go for a sunset swim at a beach you haven’t visited before or watch the majesty of a summer storm. Spend time with mother nature, and she will surely reward you with the best of her beauty.
Peak experiences can provide a sense of renewed purpose or perspective and can lead to lasting personal growth. While they may be elusive to achieve, peak experiences can offer extraordinary rewards.
By Sarah Panther