Nature speaks in a universal language, understandable by people from all over the world. Since we can learn how our surroundings – both natural and man-made – impact us, there are many ways that we can use nature to enhance mindful awareness.

Each of us responds differently to sights, smells, tastes and textures. The power of nature often brings us to the present moment. When you are in the present moment, you are more aware of your senses and everything around you. When you are more aware of the life and space around you, you are being more mindful.

Look around. Observe your relationship with the space and possessions that surround you. Consider: Where do you feel most at home in nature? Where do you go to retreat or to “get away?” What nourishes you in these spaces?

Give yourself permission to breath and feel mindful while joining Dr. Robert Eric Dinenberg, Whole Health Physician for the St. Louis VA Medical Center, for One Minute of Mindfulness. You can practice this One Minute Mindfulness exercise the next time you are in your space of retreat, for an enhanced experience and connection with your surroundings.

Circle of Health

Our Surroundings are an important aspect of self-care in the Circle of Health. Topics related to our surroundings include where we live, where we work, how the external world affects our emotions, avoiding harmful toxins, and spending time in nature.

To find out more about how our surroundings and environment can affect the way we think and feel visit,

For those whose home surroundings are challenged or uncertain, there is help available. VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is available 24/7 for homeless or at-risk Veterans. Contact at 1-877-4AID-VET or 1-877-424-3838.

In addition, Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can call or visit their local VA Medical Center and ask for the Homeless Coordinator. You can use the VA locator tool,, to find your nearest VA Medical Center and call or visit today. 

Sara Grimsgaard, MHMS, NBC-HWC is a Health Systems Specialist for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center and Whole Health Education Program in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

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