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As simple as broccoli: How nature connection reduces stress and increases wellbeing

By sylviap
March 07, 2019

How nature connection expands our awareness and experience of the divine in all moments.

In my recent Inner Bonding workshop, I found myself referring to the natural world and God interchangeably. Of course, I’ve always seen the two connected but after many years now of immersing myself and my children in nature connection, I am simply much more aware of the beautiful mystery, rhythms and support of all Life within and without us. Through our experiences gardening, hiking, sitting, observing and learning outdoors grounded in ancestral practices, it has become PALPABLE. We are held and sustained by this precious life force in all moments, whatever we want to call it, or however futilely we want to describe it, the ‘divine’ shows itself to us every moment in nature and surrounds us with its healing.

When we bring in our awareness of the depth and scope of the natural world into our gratitude practice we increase our sense of safety and wellbeing. A gratitude practice alone is an extremely important balancer in this society where we are incessantly marketed with the idea that we are not good enough and need that next shiny object or everything to be perfect in our lives to ‘be okay.’ Gratitude helps us remember the basics: I’m alive, I’m fed, I have some support…whatever comes up for you. But in some way, what you are remembering is “I’m safe. I’m safe. I’m safe” which allows our nervous system to come to a calmer state (even if not completely calm). 

I recommend all my clients use a gratitude practice in conjunction with Inner Bonding at all times because this keeps us balanced in our loving adult. Especially when things are hard, we want to be tuning into our feelings from a place of knowing we are safe. Bringing our spiritual guidance in to support us also increases our feelings of safety. When we know we are safe, our brain can relax into a higher state, our body can relax and give us more information, and our calmed nervous system increases our feelings of well being. Our internal dialogue simply becomes much clearer and more effective. 

And then there is a gratitude practice informed by nature connection. Here’s an example: I sit with my bowl of broccoli with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

I begin with gratitude for the farmers who planted, tended to and harvested my broccoli. I’m grateful for the persons who transported the food to me. I think about what else had to happen to create this; I thank the seed for sprouting, the birds and animals for fertilizer, I thank the worms and other decomposers, microbes for transforming fertilizer into rich soil, I thank the sun for shining and facilitating photosynthesis, I thank the wind for transporting minerals, the rain for pouring and providing water which fed my broccoli and the micro biome it grew in. I thank the beautiful design of the broccoli with deep roots that dug into the earth and drew up all of this life giving nutrition into the little flowers in the florets. I thank the pollinators (butterflies, bees, etc) who facilitated their growth. I sit with my gratitude of this beautiful green that is going to nourish my body. The softness and sweetness of the steamed stalk that feels hearty. The tartness of the lemon from the tree in our backyard that we have loved and admired as she blooms and fruits twice a year gifting us with sweet and juicy meyer lemons. 

All this in a bowl of broccoli. All this love, provision, and safety. 

And I can go on….to thank the ancestors for tending the land, the plant tenders who bred the broccoli and lemons to be so tasty, the spiders and insects who keep the decomposers in check, and so on… the ecosystem is WIDE. 

And I do go on as far as I can because it simply feels good. My heart swells realizing how it is all interconnected, we all have our place, all are important and all are provided for. 

Sure, I heard this growing up in verses such as “consider the lilies of the field.” Sure I learned about life science and ecosystems in books in school, but when I was kept in buildings, in front of screens, in rigid schedules, I never had the time to immerse myself in the natural world and EXPERIENCE all the intricate ways that we are simply held and cared for by Life/Source/Creator. 

Each day that I reconnect to nature,

and every moment that I slow down enough to reflect on its complexity and sublime resilience with gratitude,

profoundly increases my wellbeing and my deep knowing that 

we are each here for a reason, we are loved for who we are and we are all more than enough. 

My children and I routinely reflect on our meals this way and I see clearly how good they feel taking in their connection to Source in all life and all beings. I know that this grounds them and prepares them for life in a way that nothing else can. 

(and it also creates openness to eating broccoli and other green things!)

Sylvia Poareo is deeply grateful for the Inner Bonding process and loves to share it with others! For more information about her approach and offerings, as well as her upcoming Chicago area workshop, visit:


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