You’ve probably experienced greater ease and a sense of rejuvenation after being outside, and maybe you’ve had your breath taken away or felt deep delight while gazing at a scenic view or garden full of flowers.
More rarely and for fewer of us, being outside has given rise to spiritual experiences that we describe as a sense of being connected with all life everywhere or the feeling that the earth itself has a soul.
Yoga teacher, personal trainer, writer, and founder of Blissology, Eoin Finn has felt a spiritual connection with nature and made it his mission to help others find health and happiness through experiencing the beauty of the natural world.
Here he explains what his connection with nature feels like to him and how feeling blissed out can support goal-oriented, competitive work. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Epoch Times: How does it feel to you to be connected to the earth?
Eoin Finn: If we talk pure feeling, it feels like the earth itself has a soul, and when we become quiet and present, it awakens our own connection to our own soul. Almost the way one candle lights another, when we feel the energy in nature, it lights up our heart.
I can’t tell you the science behind it, but I do have theories about cellular communication. There are amazing communication systems in nature. For example, the trees in a forest that get a disease at one end will communicate through their roots, and the trees at the other end, hundreds of miles away, will start building antibodies.
It’s amazing, and we still don’t understand how the trillions of cells in our body communicate with each other. Perhaps there is a network between us and nature, or maybe it’s just a physiological sense of well-being that we feel.
All I know is that when I seek quiet solitude in nature the wisdom of my deepest heart becomes clear.
Epoch Times: You’ve helped over 100 high-level athletes, including Olympians, prepare for competition, so evidently blissing out in nature does not have to come at the expense of achieving goals. What is your perspective?
Mr. Finn: I hear yoga instructors say, “Don’t have a goal,” and I cringe. We should always have goals. Even the goal to not have a goal is a goal.
Every yoga pose is a dance between the goal-oriented, driven side of ourselves and the side that is nurturing, kind, and free of the striving of the ego. Then we have feedback from our bodies as to how these goals are affecting our body. If we push too hard in a yoga pose, we hurt ourselves. Not enough, and we don’t make progress.
The work in yoga and life is to balance these two polarities out so that we can achieve progress while minimizing harm to our own selves.
Instead of not having goals, I would say have goals, but also listen to feedback so you recognize when you are hurting yourself and/or others in the process of achieving them. It’s all about balance.
Epoch Times: Blissology is about connecting with the quiet place of love within us, how can this help us in this competitive world?
Mr. Finn: We live with such a high level of competition that sometimes we don’t realize how insidious it is. We are always putting ourselves on some kind of bell curve and relating our performance to others—whether it be in our looks, income, or the grades of our children. Even our yoga poses are on this bell-curve, and we need to stay on the front edge of that curve.
A certain amount of this drive is healthy because it helps us progress but, as the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of happiness.” When we see someone going deeper than us in a pose, it isn’t easy on our ego, and we often feel less happy. It’s the same trap of discontent we can fall into looking at someone in a Lexus and feeling less happy about our VW Golf.
The best yoga, I think, teaches us that comparison and competition can be the thief of happiness or the source of great inspiration if we want it to.
In our classes, we often tell people to disobey the standard cue of yoga to not make eye contact with someone else, but to really check others out; salute them, even high-five them. I tell people that in our yoga class “the grin on your chin is more important than your chin on your shin!”
We do have our time to withdraw into quietness too. At the end, when stress and tension leaves the body, we are free to feel our most quiet mind. Then we realize that we don’t have to be ahead on this bell curve to be happy. I once heard a rabbi say, “What if we didn’t have to pursue happiness, what if we just had to slow down enough for it to catch up?!”
Epoch Times: What is the connection between beauty and bliss?
Mr. Finn: Great question. Beauty (which a lot of people mistakenly interpret as glamour) inspires a sense of awe. It awakens that sense of reverence for life. We go through our days feeling grateful and inspired. All of these qualities are the cornerstone of a blissful outlook on life.
It will make all the difference in your attitude. Sometimes I joke that YOGA means You’ve Only Got Attitude. Let’s celebrate the beauty of the world every day and let it light that beautiful lamp in our hearts, so we can light as many fires as possible.
3 Ways to Connect With Nature
If you are a yoga or nature lover, or interested in appreciating nature more, Finn has the following tips:
• Get still in nature and focus on something beautiful that lights you up. Often times when we jog through the forest or Instagram a selfie in front of the sunset, our minds are very distracted.
When we are super quiet and present, we can relax our nervous systems and take in the beauty around us. This beauty awakens our soul and will fill us up in profound ways.
My mantra for this is: “Relax, breathe, observe, receive.”
• Make a “nature appreciation mandala” by finding beautiful objects in nature and assembling them into your yoga space. We do this at the start of every Blissology yoga class, and it really brings the focus back to our connection with nature.
• Practice “nature appreciation” in yoga by staying connected with the natural world in your practice. For example, every time you breathe consider that every second breath comes from plankton in the ocean.