Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

The challenge of building new experiences with nature

In the northern hemisphere, August is a month used to rest and recharge. The ways you do it vary from family to family, even from person to person. However, given the stress of everything we have to do while working, something most of us do during this is pay greater attention to our surroundings. What can that mean for us?

I often reflect about nature on a philosophical level, and even theological, and the relation between person and nature. And every time I write about this topic I wonder about my personal relationship with nature, and whether my thoughts are just an idea or rooted in personal experience. I regret saying most of the first than the later. This is why August is a privileged time to make some inner and outer changes.

These are changes meant to improve yourself and your impact on the world. We shouldn’t think less of ourselves just because we’re 1 in several billion persons. Each person matters, counts and makes a profound impact on the world. The reason is that everything is related with everything else. You may not experience it directly, but it is an undeniable truth.

Most of our life experience is learning out loud, thus, I’d like to share the BIG change I’m investing during this Summer. I struggle with the kind of connection we can establish and develop with the world. Is it physical, emotional, thoughtful…? I understand the importance of being connected with nature, but finding the way to do it is difficult.

What am I trying? My senses.


Through the eyes I can merely observed, or go deeper and contemplate. Imagine what people do in exhibitions of paintings. They contemplate and cherish every detail the artist put of himself in the painting. Nature is the most vivid and detailed painting you’ll find in your lifetime.


Through the ears I can merely hear the sound of birds, waves, wind… cars… or I can listen. To listen means paying attention to what you’re hearing. Listening intently to find the melody and rhythm of world. Sometimes ordered, other times chaotic.


Through the nose I can merely smell, or I can discover the odor of nature. Finding the odor is paying attention to distintive smells like pine trees, the oceanic salted water, the performs in a garden.


Through my mouth I can merely eat, or through my palate I can discover the flavor of each element in my plate. We put salt, olive oil and many other sauces with the excuse of giving flavor. But do you know what a tomato tastes like, or lettuce, an olive, a beet. Don’t think they lack flavor, but discover their true flavor.


Through my hands I can merely hold on to some tree to support myself, or you can touch and experience different roughness in a tree bark or leaf, a rock or the sand, a lemon or a pear, a river or the sea.

You can look at all these senses as useful, but building new experiences with nature through them can be something else entirely.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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