How A Terrifying Encounter With A Dog Shook My Faith In Nature
by Andrea Babb
I have always viewed Mother Nature as being synonymous with happiness. It is literally the center of all things “Life.” If you took five minutes right now to step outside and be one with nature, you would experience thousands of things all at once: the subtlety of the earth breathing, the wind blowing onto your face, the sunshine warming your body, the birds tittering in your ears. It’s all there, whether we notice it or not. One of the reasons I believe spending time in nature can result in happiness is because it reminds us to be present. There is so much living going on right below our noses, and so many things can change within a millisecond. If you make a conscious effort to be surrounded by nature, you are also making a conscious effort to be present and enjoy all that beauty surrounding you.
As a Spiritual Medium, energy healer, and intuitive life coach, the most common question I am asked is: What is the key to happiness? My answer is always, and simply, “spend time in nature.” And I don’t mean to just walk outside for five minutes on the sidewalk outside of your home. I mean to go out in the woods (or by a lake) and become completely absorbed with your surroundings. Look up at the tree tops, watch the branches sway in the wind, close your eyes and listen to the birds and squirrels, and feel your feet planted firmly on the ground. In doing so, you are living in the moment and you are also allowing Mother Nature to work her magic on you. You see, Mother Nature is the most powerful healer you will ever meet. She can heal you by her mere presence. And she will. Time and again.
I’ve experienced it day after day as I made it my practice to hike in the woods by my home for one hour each day. Like clockwork, I would tie up my laces and practically race to the entrance to the woods. I would exhale happily as I became surrounded by a canopy of trees and wonderful noises that a person can only hear when alone in the forest. And it was always in that moment that I would heal. My anxiety would slip away. My mood would lift to an almost euphoric state. My spiritual gifts would amplify in the most amazing ways. I was happier, healthier, and more spiritual because of the time I spent in nature.
But then, one day, my time in my beloved forest came to a screeching halt as an off-leash dog attacked me while I was hiking with my family. Within the split second it took for that random dog to charge at me and attack, I saw my safe sanctuary become a place riddled with fears and anxiety. One emergency room visit, a crushed bone, and lots of tears later, I became terrified to step back into those woods. I felt so betrayed and I didn’t know where to direct my emotions and blame. So I stayed away. For 18 months I stayed away, and I felt like a coward. But I just couldn’t face those fears.
Not surprisingly, the 18 months following that frightful day became a tad unbearable. I became listless, depressed, and irritable. I was angered easily and sort of a pill. Even more frustratingly, I lost my way when it came to my spirituality. My ability to communicate with spirits became murky and unpredictable. I began questioning my life purpose with so much obsession that it only resulted in more anger, confusion, and anxiety. Frankly, I was just a confused, unpleasant hot mess. I was drowning and couldn’t stop flailing long enough to simply stand up and walk out of the water I placed myself in.
Recently, my mother came for a visit. I was ashamed for her to see the person I had become. I was gossipy and insecure and not my usual calm, enlightened-ish self. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she noticed the change. As we sat in a little hole-in-the wall Mexican restaurant munching on too many chips and salsa, our conversation went to that traumatic dog attack. I told her that I knew it was the moment that changed me in a way that I didn’t like, and that I wasn’t sure how to recover from it. Her teary-eyed response was, “I’m just so angry with what happened to you because the dog took away something precious to you. He took the woods, and nature, from you and that’s what you are missing.” As I sat there with my mouth hanging open in an unflattering way, a little light bulb switched on. I realized that I was giving that dog all of the power. While my fear and anxiety could easily be justified, I was allowing one tiny moment in my life (and one dog) take all the power from me. I was allowing these things to get in the way of my well-being and happiness. That was not going to fly.
One week later, I slowly walked back into those woods. I retraced the exact route I took on that fateful day. Was I nervous? Sure. But I did it, nonetheless. Within that thrilling hour of hiking, I felt my anxiety once again dissipate. I could breathe with more ease, and I felt a lightness return that I had missed for 18 long months. I cried tears of joy as I continued to place one foot right in front of the other. I was taking back my power and renewing my relationship with Mother Nature. It felt incredible.
Within one week I was more calm, happy, and at peace. I became less anxious, ate better, and slept more soundly than I had in a long time. My spiritual gifts were stronger, and my connection with nature intensified. I was provided with the concrete proof that connecting with nature is the beginning, middle, and end of any spiritual practice, and the most powerful medicine for happiness. Nature is the only constant in an ever-changing world that we can all rely on to always be there for us. She becomes an old friend that continuously gifts us with wisdom and love. And she is a friend that will always welcome us with open arms, no matter how long we allow time to pass before we visit her again.
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